Your time is very limited so you want to use it as effectively as possible, but are you?
Parkinson’s Law is the principle that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
If we have an hour to get something done then it’ll take an hour to do it. As students, if we had a week to hand a piece of work in then it was completed at the end of that week.
So, if you work 8 hours a day and have a set of tasks that you wish to complete in that day then those tasks will fill the day. We naturally take longer to do things if there is time to do it.
But if you only had a 6-hour working day and these tasks had to be completed then chances are they would be completed by the end of the 6 hours. We’ve all experienced meeting deadlines and how more focussed and productive we’ve become as the deadline approaches.
If it’s possible to get everything you need to get done in say 5 hours (not including breaks) then allocate that time and be strict. Decide that with breaks you’re going to stop working at say 3pm.
Now, you’ve put some pressure on yourself to get what you need done. The result is that you’ll be more focused on these tasks and less distracted by major productivity killers such as your email box, Facebook and YouTube.
I used to work much longer hours – and sometimes you have to – and looking back I see that there was often a lack of urgency in my work rate.
Now, on those days that I’m at my desk I decide that my working day is going to end at say 3pm and at that time I’m going to go and do something else. And then at 3pm I’ll go down the gym or play my guitar or drums or read a book.
Knowing that my working day will end then, does give me that sense of urgency and focus and I really do get more done in less time.
But for that to work, the key is to walk away when you say you will. If you don’t then you’ll simply pass your self-imposed deadline, there will be no increased work rate and Parkinson’s Law will prevail.