Many managers believe that deadlines motivate workers to get things done that might otherwise be put off. However, a new study published in the Harvard Business Review conducted by Macquarie Business School found that maybe the opposite is true.
The research showed that when workers are not given a deadline, they are more likely to complete tasks immediately when compared to those given a week or month deadline. When workers are given tasks that aren’t mission critical with far off deadlines, it’s more likely they forget about them altogether.
For managers looking for their employees to complete a non-urgent task, it is recommended by the study to simply leave out a deadline to prevent procrastination. The absence of a clear deadline invokes urgency and is more likely to result in a quicker turnaround time.
However, it is important to note this research does not recommend a total elimination of deadlines. Deadlines exist for a reason for critical deliverables that need hard deadlines. For less pressing projects or internal tasks, it may be beneficial to leave out a deadline, but for key business deliverables, it is not recommended to be loose with deadlines.