You can do more in less time. Really.
Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
I want you to stop and think about that. Really.
Stop what you are doing. Stop trying to “multitask” while reading this post and really meditate on this idea.
Does your work expand to fill the time available?
You have just finished some other tasks when you head to the water cooler for a quick break before your next daily task.
Your boss walks over and gives you something to complete and allots you two hours to do so. He impresses on you that this is a very urgent task and he absolutely needs it two hours from that moment.
You decide to head back to your office and get to work, but not before checking the score of last night’s game and watching a few highlight videos breaking down why your team dropped the ball in the fourth quarter.
Thirty minutes later you decide to get down to work. You have an hour and half before your two hours are up. You organize your desk, wake up your computer and all of sudden notice a new batch of emails. You spend the next thirty minutes sifting through those messages.
One hour to go.
You start working on the project and fifteen minutes in, you know that the project will take you no more than another 20-30 minutes. That leaves an extra fifteen minutes before your boss must absolutely have this project finished. So, you jump on Facebook to check and see if anything is new and then Twitter next to see if there is anything for you to read or catch up on.
Before you know it, you have lost twenty minutes, not fifteen and you are rushing to finish the project in the next twenty-five minutes. Luckily, you finish just in time as your boss walks up and asks if the project is ready.
He asks why it took you the full two hours and you make up a bogus excuse about being in the middle of a larger project, which he assigned weeks ago, and you just needed to find a stopping point in order to throw together the numbers he wanted today.
Little does he know it would have taken you less than thirty minutes to get this project together had you buckled down and just gotten it done right away. Had you not messed around for the majority of those two hours, you could have handed him the project within thirty minutes of him asking. He would have walked away impressed and more inclined to ask for your help with other, bigger projects in the future.
Your boss also has no idea that the ‘enormous’ project he assigned you a couple weeks ago, really only needed about a week of intensive effort to be completed, but you have been procrastinating and doing the minimum amount possible for days and it has gotten you nowhere. In fact you have wasted more time putting in minimal effort than if you were to give it 100% effort and just knock it out.
Instead of blowing your boss away by getting stuff done efficiently, he continues to walk away thinking you are just an average employee who will always do what he asks. Never anything more.
The work will expand to fit the time available for it’s completion.
Raise your hand if this sounds even remotely familiar?
(I am raising my hand.)
We have all done it. What you need to realize is that if you stop allowing the work to fit the available time, you will make an incredible difference at work.
Your productivity levels will skyrocket.
Instead of projects taking weeks they will take maybe a couple of days. If you hunker down and work hard to get stuff done to the best of your ability as fast as possible while limiting distractions, you will absolutely get more work done in less time. And the quality of your work will increase as a result. Your boss will probably notice that your productivity has increased and give you more responsibility, maybe even a promotion or raise.
Chances are if you give your work maximum effort, you will be able to get more done in less time. If in five or six hours you can get the same amount of work done that you were doing in eight, that opens up a world of possibilities.
It may be painful at first if you are unaccustomed to trying to maximize your productivity, but worth it. It’s like going from eating fast food and junk food all the time to all of a sudden eating kale, tofu, and other healthy foods. A friend of mine calls this the Consumption Theory. When you first start out it is going to be extremely difficult, but eventually you will reach a tipping point where this new thing has become the norm and it will no longer bother you. Are you willing to stomach the pain of not always checking sports scores at your desk and instead work your butt off to finish two days of work in six hours?
Are you going to buckle down and see if you can do more in less time? Let me know in the comments if any of this resonates with you!