Deadlines Produce Bad Work

Is that a provocative enough title?

Well, it’s true.

So many people say they work best under deadline. They say that deadlines make them more focused, etc..

Unfortunately, they’re mistaken.

Yes, deadlines often result in work activity, and usually completion, it is however, not the best one can do.

If the measure is (for example): I need to get this done, so I keep my job, then yes, deadlines work.

The problem is people are so often in jobs/businesses they don’t like, and rely on external drivers to focus them and make them complete tasks/projects.

Deadlines are a mechanism of extrinsic motivation; i.e. something from outside you that motivates (forcesyou to do something.

People don’t like to be forced to do anything. It diminishes them and their effectiveness.

The alternative is intrinsic motivation – doing things because you want to.

The beauty of intrinsic motivation is that it’s generative. Meaning, you do something because you want to, and when you’re done, you’ve created something you’re glad-for/proud-of/happy-about.

It’s an upward spiral, as opposed to extrinsic motivators, which only take you down . . . .

*  *  *

But what if you’re “stuck” in a situation? You may object and say “I can’t quit my job because it lacks ‘intrinsic motivation’.”

Perhaps, but you can examine why you’re doing what you’re doing and find intrinsic motivation.

One example is: “I am doing this job because it is one way to earn money that I use to support my family, and I feel great about being able to contribute to my family in this way.”

I am pretty darn sure that when you shift you’re mind in this way you will 1) enjoy your work more, and be better at it and 2) you will (likely/eventually) find work that is more aligned with who you are and what you want to do.

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