June 13, 2012

The Secret to Getting More Done

I think we have all been there.  I’m busy and I have a ton of stuff to do...I just won’t sleep...I’ll drink more Starbucks than a Seattle resident.  So how can I get a lot of things done in a short space of time?  How can I meet those all consuming deadlines that cause me a crazy amount of stress?

While on my search to getting more done I encountered Parkinson’s Law in a book by Tm Ferriss called The Four Hour Work Week.  Cyril Northcote Parkinson worked for the Royal Navy in Singapore in the 1950’s.  It gave him a great opportunity to observe how much time gets wasted in a bureaucracy.  He noticed that even though the British Empire was in decline it required more personnel to run it. Making the connection to everyday life he determined that like the Royal Navy our  “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  Here is an example: if I give you a task to complete in two weeks you will probably spend thirteen days planning and one day in completing the bare essentials of it.

This law is not a mystical quick fix.  Some have said, “Well then if Parkinson’s Law is true you could set a deadline for just seconds away and complete a huge task.” Use your common sense!  There are reasonable amounts of time for every project.  Chances are the project that you have in the back of your mind would only require half the time allotted.

Set quick deadlines for your upcoming project.  If you set a quick deadline you will work your pants off until it is done.

It’s all well and good dreaming up sooner deadlines but unless you treat this deadline like a heart attack you won't do it.  Set it like your boss or professor set it.

I am not encouraging laziness here.  I am however acknowledging the fact that many projects, papers, etc..never meet the requirements of the person giving them (professor or boss).  So meet the requirements and only the requirements.  This is NOT slacking it is you doing what the boss wants to the letter.

Many people lack the ability to complete projects on time and according to code because they dream about bigger and greater things that they will do for this project.  If you're a dreamer, get the project done first then beautify and fluff the project afterwards.

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