Deadlines work. They work because they focus the mind and create urgency. They work to get us to file our taxes or finish an assignment. They’re an external lever for the work we have to do.
On the other hand, dessert works too. You don’t need an external force to encourage you to eat dessert after you’ve finished all your vegetables. It’s something you get to do, not something you have to do.
You can build a work life around deadlines. You can procrastinate, pay the late fines and push through the last minute emergencies because you need all of that in order to get to ‘have to’ mode.
Or, you can follow the path of the most productive and happy people you know. By redefining the work you’ve chosen to do as something you get to do.
And yes, I’ll point out that you can even do that with your taxes. It’s something you get to do because you’re successful and lucky enough to live in a civil society.