Chris McQueen: Is a writer on Productivity and Life-Hack topics. Believer in the word of God. Get your motivation for the week: https://chris-mcqueen.ck.page
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
It’s six o’clock. You should be done for the day. But, family is calling, a friend wants to meet you, and there’s just one more task to do for the day.
As you grab your third cup of coffee and head back to your home office, you know what’s about to come will take longer than expected. Editing the video for your Youtube channel is an endless task.
“I’ll need half an hour!” you call down to your wife as she prepares a lovely dinner. Its smell sends you down memory lane. But you catch that thought and take it captive. Now is the time to finish work.
As you work, you notice how you’ve improved your editing process over the last year. Each action is streamlined. You know which effects hook your audience.
Surprisingly, you get the task done in 30 minutes. Then, as you follow the smell of good food, you remember your achievements today.
Not only have you been for a run, written up a draft and called a few freelance clients, but you’ve also made a video and edited it just in time for the deadline tomorrow.
You ask yourself: “How come I get so much more done when I’m busy?” You think back a year and recall lying on a couch as you commiserated losing your corporate job. As you did nothing all day, your family suffered as a consequence.
This situation changed as soon as you started pursuing your dreams. Now you are content with your work and achievements. After dinner, you decide to do some research to find out how your day was so productive.
You Master The Deadline Effect
Can you recall that looming tax return deadline? Or do you dread the upcoming presentation due next week?
You’ll always push away tasks nobody likes doing. The only fix is to master the deadline effect. As Dan Ariely was of the curious people in our society, he discovered what effects deadlines had on us.
In the study he conducted with college students, he found that students with self-imposed deadlines for assignments outperformed their peers on the quality of their work.
Interestingly, not just any deadline will do the trick. Ariely found that students who gave themselves too much slack procrastinated just like those with too much time.
By choosing a realistic deadline that challenges but doesn’t stress you out, you will master the deadline effect like the pros.
You Bounce Back
We all stuff up, and sometimes even busy people stuff up and miss a deadline. It happens.
While quitters will instantly opt for the defeatist attitude and drag out the next deadline even further, there is an alternative.
A study of 25 000 people found that busier people bounced back faster after missing a deadline. To prove this statement, the researchers used a productivity app that clocked users’ deadlines.
So when the busy person missed a deadline, it’d take them on average of 25.5 days to complete a task. People with time at hand took over 33% longer.
When you next miss a deadline, you won’t need to fret too much if you’re generally busy. Instead, keep yourself active with tasks and save over a third of your valuable time.
You Break Things Down
Tomorrow’s my first of three modular exams this semester. It has been a hell of a week already and will only get busier over the next few days.
The only way I managed to get through 200 slides and lecture notes and revise paragraph numbers from the german law was to break down tasks.
I split up my revision into small portions. Like a cake, I get to enjoy little pieces of work each day until exam day. While a knife cuts your cake, Pomodoro is the answer to your study sections.
Chris Winfield demonstrated in a personal case study how to cut work hours from 40 to 16.7. His claim to success is through the Pomodoro Technique. This is how it works:
As the picture shows, you plan your pomodoros, start the timer for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break and plan a long break after 4 x 25 minutes.
Simple right? A famous Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, put it this way:
It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary
I’ve tried and tested Pomodoros. They work wonders. Every time I need to study, I aim to outperform my Pomodoro high score of 14 Pomodoros in a day. As a result, I’ve managed to improve my revision and tick more boxes on my To-do list.
Breaking tasks down into small subsections helps you achieve two things.
- You set realistic deadlines
- You break down big projects into manageable chunks
When you edit a video in two Pomodoro sessions, you have to optimise your editing flow and stop getting distracted. Twenty-five minutes isn’t a dealbreaker. It’s a realistic goal.
You’ll see how your busy life suddenly has gaps you used to fill scrolling through Instagram. Then, you can again fill these gaps with new hobbies and personal challenges.
I fill the gaps with blogging. I have two Pomodoros for writing each day. And I’m very impressed with the possibilities the technique provides us with.
Busy Lives Create Opportunities
Our research in this article has shown how mastering the deadline effect, bouncing back after missing a deadline and breaking projects into small chunks can help busy people find more time for stuff they enjoy.
Along your journey, you will throw perfectionism out of the window and pursue optimising the work you do. Consequently, you will create opportunities to create more than you consume.
Pursue a busy life with purposeful interactions. You deserve it.