Forcing Efficiency

Time is strange.

When we’ve got too much of it, we tend to squander it.

When we don’t have enough of it, we tend to use it more wisely.

To put it another way…

  • The less we have to do, the less efficient we are.
  • The more we have to do, the more efficient we are.

To maintain peak productivity, I try to have a relatively full schedule of deadline-driven tasks and projects that need to get done.

I love deadlines. (A love I acquired from my newspaper days.)

And I much prefer to have deadlines than not have them.

I don’t like it when a client gives vague deadlines like “as soon as possible” or “when you can get to it.” Because these types of pseudo-deadlines always become subservient to real deadlines. (Not to mention, vague expectations often cause major misunderstandings.)

For this reason, I try to have real deadlines attached to all my client work. This keeps me focused and misunderstandings to a minimum.

I work on my own personal projects as a way to give my mind a break. Yes, it’s still “work.” But it’s more playful… more gratifying… and a source of energy and excitement for me.

It’s also a way to distract my subconscious mind so it can solve problems in the background.

Experience has taught me that deadlines are equally important for both client work and personal “working on the business” work.

If I don’t set deadlines to finish my own new products, new sales letters, or new promotions, they usually aren’t completed with any kind of urgency or promptness.

Which is why it’s so important to hold myself accountable to deadlines I’ve set just as clients hold me accountable to deadlines they’ve set.

Obvious, I know… yet difficult to put into practice. (Freelancers, you know what I’m talking about.)

So here’s the lesson:

Set clear deadlines and give yourself less time than you think you’ll need to complete each project. These two things will automatically force you to be more efficient and use your time more wisely.

-Ryan M. Healy

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Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance copywriter, list manager, and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

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