Ever spent an entire hour responding to 3 emails? Find yourself getting distracted when you should be completing a task? This one is for you! Video below, scroll for the text version.
- There’s a name for this syndrome!
- Why it only applies to some tasks
- A quick tip that will fix the problem (that you probably already know, but aren’t doing)
Some tasks can take an almost endless amount of time
There’s no clear end point for tasks that require thinking or creativity – like responding to emails, writing blog posts or making decisions.
So the more time you give them, the more time they take.
This is especially true for those of use who are more prone to thinking over action.
(There’s a reason we have labels like: paralysis analysis, writer’s block and perfectionism!)
It also applies to tasks that you find boring or slightly difficult – you lose focus and suddenly find yourself on Facebook or doing housework. (The latter NEVER happens to me – if only I could procrastinate that way!)
When you take too long to complete these things, it can lead to days where you feel like you were busy, but didn’t make a lot of progress.
If you’re tracking your time, you might say something like “holy crap! I just spent an hour responding to 3 emails? How did that happen???”
There’s a name for this!
Parkinson’s Law: a task expands to fill the time available
Parkinson’s Law was originally intended to be humourous, but it’s actually true.
Ever notice how much you can get done when you’re heading off on vacation or trying to complete everything before leaving for the day or weekend?
Or alternately, how your workday can so easily creep into your personal time?
Or those “website updates” are still on the list after 6 months?
That’s Parkinson’s Law in action.
Allow unlimited time? You’ll never get it done.
Have 2 hours before you need to leave for the airport? Productivity city!
Here’s how you get around it.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Want to get more done in less time? Beware of Parkinson’s Law!” quote=”Want to get more done in less time? Beware of Parkinson’s Law!”]
Decide in advance how long you will spend and set a timer
This is especially effective if you combine it with time tracking: this usually takes 2 hours. Can I challenge myself to do it in 90 minutes?
Here’s why it works:
- Shortening the time increases your concentration and brings you into the now
- The timer reminds you to stay on task when you get distracted
- It lets your brain relax about “all that other stuff” – because you KNOW there will be time for it later
I know! This is more Captain Obvious stuff that you’ve heard before.
You’re probably thinking “yeah yeah I already know that. I’ve heard this before. Yawn…”
But…are you DOING it?
That’s it from me today – I challenged myself to do a 2 minute video and a 30 minute blog post. (I probably should have used a timer!)
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I timed it! 🙂