Why Are Deadlines Important? (9 Essential Reasons)


An hourglass running out of time as a deadline approaches.

Would much get done in the world if it weren’t for deadlines? Whether they are imposed on you by a college professor, a boss, or yourself, deadlines are important to help you stay focused. As you jump from one task to the next, at some point, you need to actually finish what you started. In this article, we review nine reasons why deadlines are important. They include:

  • holding you accountable
  • working with a sense of urgency
  • helping you plan
  • providing a direction for your work
  • helping you prioritize tasks
  • motivating and inspiring you
  • recognizing progress
  • having consequences if not met
  • recognizing when a job is complete

1. Deadlines Hold You Accountable

Deadlines hold you accountable to finish your work within the required timeframe. Without deadlines, either voluntary or provided to you by someone else, not much would get finished.

Failure to meet deadlines means disappointment for someone. That someone could be a client, a boss, or even yourself. The thought of letting someone down can help hold you accountable to deliver on what you said you would.

2. Deadlines Make You Work With Urgency

When you are working toward meeting an upcoming deadline, you work with urgency and with a purpose. Some people seem to fuel off the stress, and urgency of a deadline.

For those that struggle with procrastination, a fast-approaching deadline is what helps you recognize that it is time to get to work. While you might be able to delay work for a good amount of time, there is always a tipping point.

The tipping point is when a deadline is so close that it forces you to take action. Additionally, to make up for all the lost time when you were procrastinating, you have to work at a much faster pace. Without deadlines, many people would continue to procrastinate and never work with a sense of urgency.

For some people, a deadline enables them to produce their best work. Under pressure, and as time is running out, they kick it up a gear. At once, everything seems to make sense, distractions are silenced, and you are completely focused on work. Without a firm deadline, many individuals would struggle to reach this level of productivity.

3. Deadlines Help You Plan

Deadlines help you create a plan to complete the required work. A plan typically consists of you taking the deadline and splitting it up into smaller tasks.

The smaller tasks will have their own deadlines that will be completed on a shorter time frame. What once might have seemed like a large project with an unobtainable deadline, is now split up into a series of smaller and more manageable tasks. As you slowly chip away at the smaller tasks, you are putting yourself in a better position to meet the main deadline.

You are a lot more productive when you are working towards something that is achievable. Setting yourself mini-deadlines by breaking up a larger task is one way to help hold yourself accountable and keep you on track.

4. Deadlines Provide Direction

Deadlines provide a direction for you to complete your work. Your attention is constantly being competed for and distractions are widely available for those that are looking.

However, when a deadline is fast approaching, distractions don’t seem to be as compelling. When you are focused on a deadline, there are more important tasks at hand than to be distracted by your phone, talking to your colleague, or the latest shows on Netflix. Deadlines can help provide the direction you may need as you work to complete day-to-day activities.

5. Deadlines Help You Prioritize

When you have several projects on-the-go, whether it be at school, work, or for your own business, deadlines allow you to prioritize where and how you should spend your time.

It often makes the most sense to organize items by deadlines that are fast approaching and focus your efforts on the task that is due first. This way, you are prioritizing items that have the least amount of time available to complete them.

With busy lives and being pulled in multiple different directions at once, many people struggle with how they should spend their time. As they multi-task between different items, their productivity is affected when they jump from one task to the next. Prioritizing tasks by deadlines can help you determine where and what you should focus your time on next.

6. Deadlines Help Motivate And Inspire

Deadlines can be a strong motivational catalyst. The thought of not meeting a deadline can create quite a feeling of anxiety. The anxiety you feel causes you to kick-it up a notch, rise to the occasion, and allow you to produce your best work.

Furthermore, it is inspiring to think what meeting that deadline will mean for you.

It might be a paper due for college, or the submission of a bid proposal for work. When you begin on your path to complete a task within a deadline, it is inspiring to think of where you will be when you reach the deadline.

How much work you would have put in? How much you would have learned? You may have a picture of what the end product will look like. How will you celebrate completion? These kinds of thoughts are inspiring and also motivate you to get to work to meet your deadlines.

7. Deadlines Help Recognize Progress

Deadlines are important because they help you recognize that progress was made.

So many people get caught up in going through the motions. This can apply to their job, as well as extend to their personal life.

Wake-up, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch tv, go to bed, and do it all over again tomorrow. When you have a deadline, you are working towards something. It adds some excitement to your life.

After you have worked to meet a deadline, you can look back and recognize what you have accomplished. More importantly, it allows you to recognize that progress was made.

You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you had a deadline, and you achieved it. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment, an opportunity to celebrate and reward yourself.

8. There Are Consequences If A Deadline Is Missed

When you fail to meet a deadline, there are often consequences. These consequences could mean financial loss, the loss of a client, a tarnished reputation, a demotion, losing your job, the list is endless.

Consequences help you recognize that something was at stake. When something is at stake, you work a little harder to ensure that failing to meet a deadline is not an option.

While the consequences of missing a deadline can be quite severe, the act of missing a deadline isn’t always a bad thing.

When you miss a deadline, it gives you some time to reflect on why that was. Furthermore, it allows you to ask yourself the tough questions about the areas you need it to improve on so you can do better next time.

Do you need to improve your time management skills? Was your plan detailed enough? Did you create a to-do list to keep you on task leading up to your deadline?

9. Deadlines Help You Recognize When A Job Is Complete

If you struggle to recognize when a job is complete, you might consider yourself a perfectionist. You would take an unlimited amount of time to complete a job if it were an option.

However, at some point, you have to be able to recognize that the job you completed meets or exceeds your expectations of the task when you set out. A deadline is one way to help you recognize when a task is complete and it’s time to move onto the next job.

Generally, you finish the tasks you are required to do so in the time that you have. Giving yourself two hours to complete a task that should take one hour doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a result that is twice as good.

More often than not, it means you will get a similar result, but you will spend more time distracted, analyzing options, procrastinating, or deliberating over insignificant details.

A deadline helps recognize when a job is complete. Whatever effort is required for you to be content with the finished product, needs to be completed before the deadline.


The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?

eightysixfourhundred, make them count


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James

Hi, I'm James! I want to help you make the most of your day by providing helpful tips and informative articles on motivation, time management, productivity, and happiness.

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