As a small business owner with a packed calendar, it can be tempting to consistently schedule hard deadlines for every project. While having a hard deadline can sometimes be unavoidable, more often than not, a hard deadline is unnecessary for day-to-day processes. In fact, being strict on setting deadlines can actually be detrimental for your small business projects.

Here are three ways that hard deadlines can weaken the overall success of your small business projects:

Marketing Deadlines Xero Small Business Team
Hard deadlines can create unnecessary stress within your team.

Work Gets Messy

With hard imposed timelines, employees feel pressured to finish quickly rather than finish polished. Employees get sloppy when they feel rushed because they care more about the deadline than the end product. While it is necessary to have a general idea of when to complete a project, having a malleable deadline could benefit your employees’ work by reducing the stress placed upon workers and giving them more time to create better material.

Stress Produces Subpar Work

Speaking of stress, an employee who is overly stressed is less likely to produce great work. Utilizing softer deadlines gives employees an idea of when their work should be completed without pressuring them to care more about the deadline than creating a well-executed and thoroughly finished project.

Less Time Spent Being Creative

With a hard deadline, employees might spend their time haphazardly getting the project done while being preoccupied by deadline-induced stress. Because of the pressure to complete a project before a hard deadline, your workers are not spending enough time brainstorming. They’re not spending enough time thinking of good ideas, and thus they’re not spending enough time making the best product or service for your clientele. Creative thinking takes time, and sometimes the best ideas cannot be formed on a two-week timeline.

How can we create better deadlines?

Creating deadlines is still a necessary skill that small business owners must have, but we can work to set better deadlines that influence employees positively to create their best work for your clients.

Choose Deadlines Wisely

When considering whether to assign a deadline to a project, make sure that having a hard and steady deadline is necessary. If not, consider foregoing one altogether. Remind your team that although there isn’t a hard deadline, they should still aim to produce their best work in a timely manner. While they shouldn’t feel pressured to hit an unspecified deadline, they should be able to prioritize projects with hard deadlines while continuing to work on assignments with less pressing due dates.

Allow Small Teams to Set Deadlines

Rather than micromanaging your employees, let them determine how long that they estimate a project will take. Then, they can set their own soft and hard deadlines. It is simply more efficient for someone actively involved in the assignment to set the parameters for the project calendar. If your employees need more supervision depending on their personal needs, then go ahead and step in to assist in determining deadlines.

Start Soft Before Setting Firm Deadlines

Take our advice into consideration and have malleable deadlines, but if all else fails, then assign a hard deadline to the project. Each project has its own needs regarding strategy. Sometimes, that means setting a soft due date for a “rough draft” and a hard deadline for the “final copy.” Deadline setting is an art, and it changes depending on every assignment.

Team celebrates properly after completing a project
Remember to properly celebrate the wins!

Small business project success is dependent upon ensuring that employees aren’t inhibited by unnecessary stress or timelines due to arbitrary deadlines. Next time your small business has a project, reevaluate whether the team assigned to it needs one. If not, allow the workers to complete the project with enough time and space to produce creative, complete work for your clientele