Man slumping over computer with work to do
Personal Development,  Productivity

Helpful Tips to Overcome Deadline Stress

Deadline stress is the fear of running out of time. There is nothing more stressful than a looming deadline when it seems there is a lot more to be done and little time left. The word ‘deadline’ itself invokes fear and anxiety. I have been trying to reframe it into a more productive notion such as a timeline, due date, completion date or milestone marker. Whatever term you use, just give it life.

This post shares nine powerful tips and actionable steps you can take right away to manage the stress that comes with pending deadlines. I also share helpful book suggestions that will help declutter your mind and give you more insight.

While stress is a normal part of our lives, the negative effects can’t be denied. We should all strive to reduce stress where we can. One unique and overlooked source of stress is deadline stress. This is the stress you feel when you are worried about pending tasks that are hanging over your head. If that sounds like something you deal with, consider using these tips to help overcome deadline stress.

Before we move on, don’t mistake deadlines for goals. While the steps may seem similar to goal setting, deadlines are more circumstantial whereas goals are self-willed and paced. Deadlines only focus on the time aspect and have immediate consequences more far-reaching than goals.

Disclosure: Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Make a Plan

Do you know how you are going to meet your deadline? Do you have a plan? If not, do this as soon as possible. Planning is key to meeting your deadlines. Taking the time to outline a rough plan will likely reduce a lot of the deadline stress you feel.

Don’t just take things as they come or go with the flow. Time moves a lot faster when you think you think you have plenty of time to get things done. A plan will help you structure your work and see how you can go about achieving your submission and completion of your task timeously.

Planning is a must for me with studying, a full-time job, online business, and motherhood. I have assignment deadlines, which I’m always procrastinating on… Setting up a study schedule and time for research and writing has helped me meet my due dates.

Set More Realistic Deadlines

People tend to be overly optimistic when they initially set timelines. While this is a hard habit to break, you need to get more realistic. Setting deadlines that aren’t reasonable will only add more pressure on you and overwhelm you. Make sure you set realistic deadlines that you can meet.

Sometimes, we have deadlines set for us at work or school that we need to work around. This is where the planning helps with time management. Set timelines for all the steps and tasks leading up to the submission date or deadline that won’t leave you exhausted from trying to catch up.

Organise your Workspace

A cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind. Even if you feel stressed for time, it’s important to take some time to tidy up your work area. A tidy work area means you have fewer distractions and will find it easier to focus on your most important tasks.

Organise your space in sections of importance and prioritise the workflow for ease of reference and getting things done.

Focus on Things You Can Control

You can’t control every circumstance in your life. When you are facing a tough deadline, focus on the things you can control. Maybe your boss set the deadline so you can’t control that, but you can control how you spend the time you have.

You can’t control what you can’t control. Remember that and don’t be too hard on yourself. Use the tools you have at your disposal to make the work easier. Automate, use AI, speech to text and ask for help when you have short deadlines set for you and you feel the pressure.

Break Down Your Tasks

One of the best ways to deal with deadline stress is to break your intimidating tasks down into smaller action items. Instead of worrying about a huge task due in whatever amount of days, you can focus on smaller steps that you can do right away. The more of these steps you tackle, the closer you will be to your goal.

If you can get something done in five minutes or less, do it right away. Those tasks don’t need planning, and they won’t jeopardise your progress but will help you tick things off the pending list. Don’t leave things to pile up. Break tasks into sectors or types and group some tasks for easier flow. This also helps the pace of your work.

Prioritize What’s Most Important

You should always be spending the majority of your time on your most important tasks. If you need help figuring out what you should be working on next, consider both urgency and importance. Important tasks move you towards your goals the most, and urgent tasks have the tightest deadlines. Find a balance between those two tasks to figure out what deserves priority.

Focus on Your Inner Peace

It’s important to find healthy ways to limit stress in your life. Focusing on your self-care and inner peace is the best way to do that. Consider taking up a meditation routine. Strive to be more mindful in your everyday life. Find hobbies and routines that naturally reduce your stress. Starting a journaling practice is also a good outlet.

Do more of the things which bring you calm and clarity.

Let Go of Perfection

Perfection is the biggest enemy of “done.” If you are already stressed about meeting a deadline, it doesn’t make sense to add the stress of perfection. The reality is, perfect doesn’t exist. If you keep nitpicking every little detail, you are only going to miss more deadlines. Don’t invite the stress of perfection into your life. Remember, done is better than perfect.

Take a Break

If you are heads-down, working your tail off to meet a deadline, taking a break might be the last thing on your mind. This can be a dangerous mindset. Taking a break is a great way to re-energize and refocus to always give maximum effort. It is also a chance to step back from the details and take an overall look at your progress.

Taking stock of things when the pressure gets unbearable can help you reset and find loopholes in your system. This is the time to reshuffle and try a different way that doesn’t leave you frazzled out.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Suggested Readings

  1. Little Book of Mindfulness
  • One Year to an Organized Work Life
  • Let That Sh*t Go
  • The Pressure Principle
  • Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Fast-Action Steps to Overcome Deadline Stress

  1. Look at your schedule or calendar and take stock of your current deadlines. If you have projects or tasks without a deadline, give them one.
  2. Examine all of your deadlines. Are there any deadlines you can move? Is there a deadline you were too aggressive on? Tweak your deadlines where necessary and possible.
  3. Do any of the deadlines worry you? If you can’t change a deadline that worries you, create a plan of attack to reach it. Figure out a step you can take towards it right now, and do it!

Don’t let the deadlines stress get you in a slump. Work smarter and more efficiently to get things done timeously without the stress that comes with a ticking clock.

Love, Everyday


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *