1 | 18 | Assign a due date to every non-routine task

Hi there! I'm Marian Knopp, the Online Business Systemizer at marianknopp.com.

The Productivity Tip of the Day™ is: Assign a due date to every non-routine task

Your routine tasks kind of have a due date built in, because of the start date of the routine. So if you're doing something every Monday, the due date is naturally part of that, in that the due date will be Monday. You want to get it done the same day. So in terms of routine tasks, we don't really need to assign due dates, because we've assigned start dates. Dates have to be assigned to all the tasks, whether it's a start date or a due date, so my tip today is to encourage you to create due dates for all of your non-routine tasks, all of your project work and other priorities, all the next actions that you've generated. And I know that due dates kind of have this negative stigma, possibly because it's also called deadlines, same thing. You know, when does something have to get done by? I actually worked in an office that called deadlines lifelines, because of that negative stigma. It was weird.

But the due dates are really important, and I want to encourage you, if you are not assigning due dates to your tasks, to try it for yourself, and for the work that you're delegating to others, because some people feel uncomfortable, because it feels like they're being strict, or they've created like this hard line of like when something has to get due, but it's important. And it's especially important when you're assigning a task, because it helps relay to the other person the kind of priority you have in your mind on when you want this done. Whether or not they deliver early, or on time, or late is on them, but having relayed the due date really helps them, and it's something that I'm always so grateful for any time I'm working for anyone, when they tell me a due date. It just lights me up, because it means that they care enough to relay how important it is.

Any task that I'm given, that somebody asked me to do, is always so much better with a due date, because I could, in my head, assume that the priority is totally different than what it actually is, because maybe they assign something, and the way they said it makes it sound like it needs to get done today, like today, or this week, like I need to drop everything I thought I was doing, and I need to do it, when in reality if they had assigned a due date, they would have said, you know, like, "Oh this isn't due until next month," and then I'm like, "Oh, because the way you said it sounded really urgent, but I'm reading too much into that." So when people add due dates, it's actually a really great thing.

And if you're the kind of person that just procrastinates a lot, and you just feel uncomfortable with due dates and things like that, I want you to try to take it a different way as well, when you're receiving tasks with due dates or when you make due days for yourself to get things done, to realize that by putting in a due date, you are automatically sorting it in your list of priorities. A lot of times, when I am going through my inbox and I'm processing my tasks, when I get to the part where I assign a due date, it's tough, because I realize, "Oh no, this task is not actually that important," because if it doesn't matter that it gets done today, or this week, or next month, or this year, then it's just not going to be important enough for me to actually do. Or, I realize, "Oh my goodness. I really want to get this done more than I want to get everything else I've already decided to get done done, so now I have to reprioritize."

So, I've said in the beginning that it's something that I do every day, is reprioritizing, because based on the goals that you're trying to achieve, you're going to have different due dates, and there's always going to be new ideas coming in and new goals that you want to achieve. So, due dates are really important. It helps you. It's not a negative thing. You know, don't think of it as like this order, or like... I don't know the best words to describe this, but it's not a negative thing. Deadline, I don't know the origins of the word. Maybe some of you wordsmiths do, but I would assume, you know, like that's the end. That's the end of that project. That's the end of that goal. It is, you know, dead after that date kind of thing.

I would look at it in a positive way, because they are so helpful, and I love due dates. I love due dates, deadlines, whatever you want to call them, because of how much they help me figure out what I need to do. And you'll find your productivity is based on what you are choosing to do and what you're choosing not to do, so due dates really, really help you make that decision. Is this worth doing? If it's something where it really doesn't matter when it gets done, it can go into a next actions list, but if it doesn't have a due date, most likely you're not going to get around to it, because it's not that important to you. So, do yourself a favor. Try out due dates. Do others have favor and give them due dates when you ask them to do something, so that they know.

And there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. I have been on both the giving and receiving end of both right and wrong ways of doing this. Be polite about it, you know? Just say, "Hey, when you're doing this, you know, this is the deadline." There are definitely ways that you could be giving deadlines that are rough. Anyone who has worked with me in the past knows some of my experiences with some hard deadlines that maybe were not communicated very well. So, it's important to be mindful of the fact that you should still communicate well, even if the content that you're communicating is important and valuable. That was just a bonus tip on that.

Now that you know all the critical details that you need for procedures and tasks, we'll talk about what to do when you're not available. Just as a review of what we've gotten this week, we have written down procedures with all sorts of details. We have assigned those procedures to the right person, the who. We have assigned a due date to those tasks, so that we're able to prioritize, and, well this is not necessarily in the right order, but we've also assigned a trigger for what is going to trigger that person to do that thing by the due date.

I want you to check out my YouTube channel for the videos of this episode and so many more, so you can check them out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Aed6IP85aH9mefYNrVUpw

Just search for "Productivity Tip of the Day" and you'll find our channel.  

Tomorrow is Friday. Who's ready for it? We've only got two more episodes left of this season. I cannot believe it's already coming to an end, but I'm already looking forward to a bonus episode after the season ends, of the lessons I've learned. So I'm looking forward to sharing all of that with you. Take care. See you tomorrow.

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