Deadlines are one of those things that are necessary and important but can sometimes make you feel rushed and suffocated. No matter if you work at home for yourself or in an office building for someone else, deadlines are an integral part of business. It's much more difficult to get anything finished without some sort of deadline because your mind rationalises the importance of projects based on their due date and their rewards. For example, are you more concerned about a 3-day project due tomorrow, or a 3-day project due in two weeks? What if the latter project is of higher value than the former? I'd bet you are still more concerned about the project due tomorrow.
What happens if you are not given a clear deadline? Well, I had a lot of experience with this in my old job. The setting was fairly relaxed but my job was integral to the company. I wrote all of the website and marketing content (and sometimes wrote articles for the company's ezine), created marketing graphics, flyers, brochures, etc. and I filmed, edited and compiled video... among a number of other things as well. I did this primarily on my own with very little, if any, supervision and the workload was hefty. It was important for me to know which projects were of top priority and which were not, but I rarely had this luxury, and I was rarely given a set deadline.
In a perfect world, you would work together with other members of your team to write up a calendar and have a clear plan, but often times this doesn't happen. Instead, you are stuck making your own calendar. Try to prioritise your projects by the ones you feel are most important. If you know they are time sensitive, then be sure to take that into consideration. The only problem I find with doing this is that sometimes it makes me lazy. I'm a big time procrastinator when the pressure to finish on time isn't there because no one is depending on me at that moment. It gets even worse when I'm working on something I don't like to do (like making seminar power points! UGH!).
Right now, I've been making writing calendars to organize when I need to have my writing projects finished by. Since I'm a procrastinator, it's been a major help. For the most part, I've been on schedule. Not only is it something I'm passionate about, but it's something I want to make a living off of, so I need to be very disciplined if I want to make it work.
INTERACTIVE: How do you handle non-existent deadlines and/or work you don't care for?