“Any serious deadline should not exist on your calendar just as a note on a single day. It should instead by an event that spans the entire week preceding the actual deadline.” — Cal Newport

Big projects with important deadlines have a greater impact on your day-to-day work than just the day they’re due. Newport offers a simple and elegant solution to make sure you aren’t hit with a tsunami of work when multiple major projects come due at the same time.

In your calendar software (or paper calendar) create an all-day event that exists for the week prior to the final due date for a project. By doing this you will have a better sense of when “crunch time” for that project will be and you can avoid scheduling meetings or making other commitments during that time. If you don’t do this, you may be unwittingly signing yourself up for a hellacious workload that could’ve been avoided.

  • matthew d lyons

    This is a good reminder. So often, people just have that looming deadline noted on their calendars, but no milestone reminders or calendar items beforehand. I don’t know if creating an all-day item a week prior to a deadline would work for me. I like to take a more incremental approach, so as not to be slammed all in one day.

    Many years ago, I tried Microsoft Project for a while. You set up a project working backward. The program takes your input and creates a big timeline with milestones. If you miss an early milestone, subsequent milestons in the project fall like dominoes. I found the program to be a little dense and time-consuming, though, so I lifted the essence of the program and made it part of how I work — be it professional or personal projects. I put placeholders on my calendar back to the day I started the project to help me gauge progress. I’ve even tried to get my son to use this approach. He just graduated from high school, and I think it will help him, considerably, in college.

    • Herbert Lui

      Same: in college, I set progress checks in my calendar, usually two weeks prior to the deadline. I’m sure your son will find the advice helpful — thanks for sharing, Matthew.

  • Herbert Lui

    Good to hear, thanks for sharing Brit.

  • Herbert Lui

    My pleasure, TD. Thanks for reading.

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