I’ve often thought that it would be fun to write a book about happiness and habits that would consist of a series of New Yorker cartoons, with my commentary.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Consider, for instance, this cartoon by David Sipress. A guy in an office looks up from his computer to see Death, with his hooded cloak and scythe, walking through the door.

The guy says, “Thank goodness you’re here–I can’t accomplish anything unless I have a deadline.”

This reminded me of a couple of principles of happiness and good habits.

First, we all share that ultimate deadline. The days are long, but the years are short. I often remind myself: don’t wait to find time for something that’s important to me; make time for it now. Because we never know when we’ll run out of time.

Second, for most people, deadlines — and other forms of external accountability — are very helpful. If there’s something we want to accomplish, it’s helpful to put a deadline around it.

Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time. @gretchenrubin
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Deadlines help.

And for Obligers, this external accountability is key. Crucial. Indispensable! (Not sure if you’re an Obliger — or what an Obliger is? Take this quiz.)

I admire the ability of cartoonists to capture large ideas in a single image and a few lines of text.

Is there a cartoon that you saw where you thought, “Wow, this cartoon says it all”? Or a cartoon that you’ve kept on the fridge or above your desk, for years?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than BeforeOn her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Vicktor Hanacek.