David Heinemeier Hansson:
The purpose of a self-imposed deadline is to sharpen the edge of your prioritization sword and stake a flag of coordination for the team. It’s not a hill to die on. It’s not a justification for weeks of death marching. It’s a voluntary constraint on scope.
Yes, deadlines are wonderful! They’re the tie-breaker on feature debates. They suck all the excess heat out of the prioritization joust:
"Hey, I’d love to get your additional pet feature into the first release, but, you know: THE DEADLINE".
The opposite of the deadline, the once much heralded When It’s Done, is the oppression of a blank canvas. Unless your system has fewer moving parts than you can count on two hands, objective perfection is impossible. It’s always a trade-off, but one that now needs to happen in the uncharted territory of a team-sized illusion of agreements.
Putting in a good day’s work relies on the knowledge that you just moved a little bit closer to the finish line. If the finish line is constantly moving and constantly in dispute, it’s impossible to reap that satisfaction. Which in turn leads to stress and misery.
Don’t let the self-imposed deadline kill you, let it free you.
When we redesigned the Flybase homepage, it was done with a set deadline, it helped us get things done without constantly trying to add to it. Yes, we've made adjustments since then, but the majority of the site was done within the deadline.
We're also following a deadline on the dashboard redesign and this blog redesign, and it's working well so far.