6 Benefits Of Setting Deadlines For Your Studies
Stephen King, in his book On Writing, wrote that the first draft of any book, no matter how long, should take no more than three months to complete. One season for a giant 1,000-page doorstopper! Maybe that works for Stephen King and novel writing, but does it translate to other fields?
I would say yes. Essentially, this is a deadline that you set for yourself, and as we all know, deadlines have certain advantages. For starters, the workforce works on a deadline. Very few jobs give you a list of tasks to complete and then say, “It doesn’t matter when you get it done, take a year if you need it!”
We’re all on borrowed time, and nowhere is that more apparent than the world of testing. Here are some of the benefits to deadline thinking.
1. Setting a deadline channels your enthusiasm.
One of the first benefits to setting deadlines is the fact that it helps you to control and channel your energy and enthusiasm for a project. If you give yourself too much time to get something done, you’ll end up procrastinating more than working and then you’ll find yourself in a situation at the end where you run out of time and have to rush work instead of being thorough and effective. This is a main driver for why King sets his first draft to three months. He knows that the creative process will dissipate if he goes at a more leisurely pace.
2. Setting a deadline prepares you for what you need to do.
When you first start a project or begin studying for a major exam, it can be quite overwhelming. You hardly know where to begin! Setting a deadline makes you serious about what is to come and mobilizes your thinking for the challenge ahead.
3. Setting a deadline makes you more creative about finding solutions.
Take the Stephen King example. When he wrote The Stand, there was a lot of work to do between page one and page 1,000. If he was ever going to get to the end, he needed to know how the book started, who the major characters were, what big events would drive the story forward, and so on and so forth. To have written a draft in just three months, King would have been up against it. Luckily, setting a time for when something MUST be done activates the creative part of the brain and allows you to take chances that will propel you forward. It doesn’t mean every solution you come up with will work. You may have to backtrack and try something else. But it helps you build a workable roadmap for successfully reaching the destination, whatever your destination might be.
4. Setting a deadline keeps others on task and encourages teamwork.
This is for those of you who like to work or study as part of a team. If you know when something must be done by, then you can break the project or the studying down into manageable chunks, assign those chunks to members of the group, and then reconvene to learn from one another. It’s a faster way of covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time. More importantly, it gives each of you a ticking clock and a sense of responsibility to other members in the group. It also ensures that you work at the same pace instead of falling into sporadic and lazy behavioral patterns.
5. Setting a deadline helps you break down tasks and keeps you well-organized.
With studying for a test, your test date is always your main deadline, but the more complex the subject matter, the more necessary additional deadlines will be on your way to the goal. Knowing where you’re going enables you to know what steps you have to take along the way and when you have to take them, in other words. If you’re studying for the ACT, you wouldn’t wait until a week before and then try to cram practice tests for Reading, Math, Science Reasoning, and English into one week or a few days. You would ideally know your test date a month or two in advance, and you would set specific goals for the material you have to cover across the four or eight week period.
6. Setting a deadline keeps you from getting lazy while also helping you to rejuvenate.
It’s easy to get lazy when you have no sense of direction or an endgame in sight. When you do hold yourself to a deadline, though, you’re able to prepare yourself mentally and physically for every challenge and then utilize the downtime to recharge your batteries. It’s not unacceptable to reward yourself with a small shopping spree or perhaps a trip to your favorite restaurant. It’s actually part of the studying process — or whatever you’re trying to achieve — in that it sets a system of rewards to motivate you to the next challenge and the next until the final goal is in sight.
While the word “deadline” has an ominous sound to it, there are so many benefits and advantages to it. In setting and keeping deadlines you will become a more disciplined person, who takes personal responsibility for his actions. You’ll also learn a lot about task management, stoking your creative fires, and seeing how things work together as a means for achieving the desired end. If you’re ready to start getting better use out of your time, then don’t start another project or begin studying for another test until you’ve set your deadline and developed a plan for reaching it. Best of luck!