Limiting your time frame for a project can encourage productivity.
As I booked myself for another sailing adventure this week, my task list condensed over the reduced number of work days, and my need-to-accomplish-anxiety piqued. The day was winding down and I had 30 minutes before I was to meet with some friends for dinner and a much-needed catch-up.
I’ve noticed a pattern – if I give myself a full day do something – like writing this blog post – then the task will take all day long. An interesting thing happens when I run up against the deadline – suddenly the work will pour out of me. I have always chalked this up to working well under pressure or procrastination, but recently I read that there is an actual name for this phenomenon. I first heard of Parkinson’s Law as detailed by Joel Falconer in an enlightening article on Life Hack about using Parkinson’s Law to increase productivity.
Parkinson’s Law: work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
I had Joel’s article in mind while I was folding laundry and not-writing. I decided to test this theory and I challenged myself to complete this now-overdue task in a shorter time frame. I also gave myself a break by breaking down the project into smaller pieces that require shorter blocks of concentration. I limited my goal to completing the first step of my blogging process – ideating.
Twenty Minutes before my self-imposed deadline, I sat down and began completing a creative brief and blog outline. Releasing some of the pressure helped the creativity flow and the ideas came to me easily. I still had 5 minutes left when I realized that the bulk of the work was complete, albeit handwritten in my notepad. I would still have to make time to edit and publish the post later – but that will be after I enjoyed some time with my tribe.
Overall, I am impressed with the results of this Twenty Minute Challenge. I found increased focus and productivity resulted from limiting time to do the task. In fact, I’m so impressed I’d like to see what other challenges we can complete in twenty.