As a fast-growing food company, the idea of a to-do list is laughable. We need to finish everything by yesterday.
At Redd, we believe in big, lofty, sometimes ridiculous goals. We think it’s important to know where we’re going. We talk daily about having a clear vision of where we want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years.
The dreaming big comes naturally to all of us. It’s knowing which steps to take first that’s difficult. The self-doubt of wondering whether this a step in the right direction towards our big dreams or a massive waste of time can feel paralyzing.
To get through the doubt and actually start to get things done, we found one epic motivator. Deadlines.
For every task, there is a deadline. Not just self-imposed deadlines, that can pass by without anyone noticing – we set group deadlines. We know that accountability is our team’s greatest motivator, so when we need to get things done, we set a meeting to review our progress, knowing the rest of our team will be waiting for us so they can take the baton and execute on our success.
Before we leave for the day, our conversations end with:
- “Can you get that done this week?”
- “Let’s set a meeting to go over how it went.”
We don’t leave room for dawdling or procrastination. And things usually get done. (usually…)
There are a few reasons we believe setting a deadline helps us achieve more:
It forces you to push past the fear.
Running a fast-growing company is filled with unknowns. And as humans, unknowns make us stop. It feels natural to put off the work or get stuck “researching” projects without acting on them because of fear.
Letting people down is more awkward than screwing up
Getting things done is awkward and uncomfortable, and the risk of screwing up is pretty big. In other words, people hate uncertainty. And we will do anything to avoid uncertainty. Unfortunately, as a new business – there are few things that are certain or reliable.
But when we are accountable to others, that deadline means the start of someone else’s work. When we set up deadlines in this way, it helps us get over our own ego and think about the greater good. It puts you back in a creative mindset and moves you from “I hope I don’t screw up” to – “I hope I finish this project on time.”
It takes away our choice.
We are usually overwhelmed with attention grabbing options — should we check email, check social media, read blogs and news sites, clean the house, do an errand, or get this one important thing done.
Some people often choose not to do anything. Or they default to the easiest, most predictable and habitual tasks. We avoid doing the things that are new or unfamiliar. Unfortunately, by doing the same small, predictable tasks, we can never change the outcome of our work. We have to choose the big, risky tasks to make big and significant changes to our business.
Deadlines with strong motivators will remove the choice.
Suddenly, when the choice isn’t there. You’ll sit down, and just do it, without question, because the choice has been made for you.
At Redd we find that by setting up a powerful deadline we get out of our own way, remove choice and push you past the fear is exactly what you need.