Today we are tackling our productivity by breaking the law! Haha…if you know me, you know I’m a pretty big rule follower, but I can promise you that this one rule you’ll want to break!
Have you ever had a deadline to complete a project that was due months into the future? Let’s use a personal example. My son’s graduation party is this weekend. We have had a few projects on our list to complete before that time. Somehow when the graduation date was moved to a later date, the pressing need to finish those projects moved along with it.
Now under the gun to get these tasks completed, we have found a resurgence of energy to get everything done just in time! This, my friend, is Parkinson’s Law in the flesh!
In 1955 Cyril Parkinson’s essay was published in The Economist. His essay explained his theory that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Furthermore, he said that if something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If something must be done next week, it’ll be done next week. If something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow.
Taking Your Time
If given the leisure to take our time with a project, we most likely will take our sweet time. I have found that to be the case in my situation. If given the time to create something…I will take my time to do so. Since I know I’m not the only one afflicted with this…I think I have found a way that we can differ from the competition. Just because we can take our time to do something, doesn’t mean we should. I’ll give you another example. I am often contacted and asked for a custom rosary or jewelry piece. I know that in most cases, I can take my time to create a sample. It would be easy enough to take a couple of days, if not weeks. After all, it is a custom order. In reality, what I have found to be the best recipe is this.
First, I receive a custom request. Second, I look over the requirements to see if it’s something that I can complete. Third I assess how long it will take for me to do it. Fourth, I price my piece accordingly. Fifth, I commit to a time to give my customer a sample. This is the best way to ensure that your customer won’t wait forever to receive a sample. If you give yourself a time frame to finish a project, chances are you will. I like to have something for them to see within a day. I know how I am as a shopper. I want to purchase what I have my heart set on right away. If I have to wait an unreasonable amount of time, I will go somewhere else. I picture all of my customers to have the same high standards as me, so I like to underpromise and overdeliver.
Once we have a deadline approaching, we tend to really take a hard look at all the activities surrounding the day that will prevent us from getting to our goal. We make choices towards completing our tasks, and we decide on what is most critical throughout the day. Little by little, we chip away at our primary responsibility as we make small tradeoffs to get the job done in time. Don’t be fooled by perfectionism or wanting to make your end goal grander than it already is. This, too, is just another way of delaying your goal. In the end, I find that the closer the deadline, the narrower my field of vision, and the more I laser focus and decide that other add-ons are not necessary. Taking these tips into consideration is most imperative when working with a team. If you don’t set a clear vision, a strong why, clarify roles and tasks, you’ll soon find your project growing exponentially, and your end date will most likely be longer than necessary.
The greatest gift you can give yourself is setting a realistic deadline. Understanding Parkinson’s Law and embracing a deadline is the best way to be most productive. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to friends that have had gym memberships for years, but it isn’t until their vacation is slowly approaching that they suddenly feel the pressure to start visiting the gym. I’m not a proponent of working out specifically for a vacation because sure enough once that vacation is over or worse yet, once you’re on vacation…your new habit will no longer have the same motivating why that it did before you boarded the plane. The best approach is to make small daily changes in your habits that aim for a higher goal. Maybe it’s to be more flexible, run a faster mile, get to the gym x number of days. All of those goals can still be worked on while on vacation. By making small incremental goals with deadlines, you will develop a habit that is sure to help you in just about any aspect of life.
Try to think about the areas of your life where you have struggled most. Is it your health, your weight, your love life, your home, your finances? Whatever your answer, create a goal, set a firm and reasonable deadline, and work towards achieving it. Remember that if you don’t set a time frame for completion, this isn’t a goal, and you will most likely have that idea floating around as a thought or wishful thinking. Once you’ve established your time frame, you’ll suddenly have to make choices that allow you to laser focus on finishing the single task at hand. We are all susceptible to this, and once you recognize a flaw that you want to fix, you give it a name and learn about it, and now you have equipped yourself to grow and change.
Flaw or Habit
There is no greater feeling than being able to recognize that what you’re experiencing isn’t a character flaw. Rather, it is a minor inconvenience that is just as easily conquered as any other bad habit. It just takes a little bit of awareness and action. Just in case you missed it, Ep 21 and Ep 22 pair perfectly with this topic! Ep 21 is about overcoming procrastination with a little snippet from my son’s junior year, and Ep 22 is about the three tips to optimize your time. In less than an hour’s worth of listening, and with a few minor adjustments, you can start to make significant changes to get your goals marked off your list.
Thank you for taking the time to spend with me today. I hope these little lessons are helping you make positive changes in your life. Next week’s guest is going to have you rethinking how to earn passive income. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to talk with such talented entrepreneurs and, more importantly, the ability to share their stories with you! If you would like to have your story featured or if you’d like to submit a friend’s story, be sure to visit the show notes and click on the link to be on the show! If you could spare a minute to leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast, I would really appreciate it! Like I always say, a positive review is like extending your hand out to the next potential listener and telling them it’s okay to be here…you’ll like the show too! And that by far is the greatest gift to me!
Thank you, my friend, I’ll see you next time!
Some of the links may be affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I DO NOT receive any affiliate income from guest featured on the Handmade CEO.