Allocating Time to Tasks

Summary: Work occupies the time it is allocated.

Are you guilty of “pulling all nighters” and allocating many days to prepare for an exam?

If so, it is note-worthy how a task always takes up it’s allocated time (if not more).

During highschool, I would rush through my homework prior to going to my job … it was not of best quality but it taught me something valuable about the concept of time.

On job days, I would come back home from school knowing that I had only 2 hours to finish all my homework prior to my work shift. Surprisingly, the homework occupied the time it was allocated.

Less time resulted in more creativity. I recall taking my essay to job so I can proof-read during lunch break, posting my questions online so by the time I returned someone had answered them, & going for extra help during school’s lunch break.

On no job days, I would come back home from school knowing that I had about 6+ hours to finish my homework before bedtime. Surprisingly, the homework took longer. I would finish 10% of it and then take a break (procrastination). Rarely any creativity emerged.

Result: Grades & Performance on “job days” > Grades & Performance on “no job days”

Why does this happen?

This is what I have to share:

  1. More Available Time = Procrastination
  2. More Available Time = Less Creativity

Lessons Learned

  • With more constraints , creativity results in better solutions.
  • Work occupies the time it is allocated.

Next time, try constraining your resource (time or money) to achieve a particular task. Instead of in 5-hours try to do it in 2-hours.

Credits: Father, Workplace, and Friends. 

6 comments On Allocating Time to Tasks

  • I can see your perspective in building constraints which will ensure you are more effective with your time and creative as well. How about when you do actually have the whole day to finish the task. How would you constraint yourself to finish the task in just 3 hours? (with the purpose to avoid procrastination and increasing creativity)

    • You got to the root of it! That is something I have been struggling with myself.

      The best solution I have found is from David Allen. He suggests to begin your day by first dividing all your available time. Thus, constraining yourself.

      Therefore, if you have the whole day, mark it down that you will only work for 3 hours and rest is dedicated to other tasks – gym, family, reading etc.

      By doing so you give yourself a mental message “Hey! I don’t have the whole day to finish the task.”

      You can add accountability for better results. Tell your family member/colleague that “I will do this task by 4PM and hand it to you!”

      However, such working routine is a habit that builds overtime. Best way is to start small and keeping improving.

      • But how do you how much time is adequate for finishing the job? Assume I have the whole day to write lyrics for a song, I allocate only 1 hour for it since I need to write only 8 lines. But when I sit to it, I write only 2 lines or so. How to solve this problem?

        • Good question. Best way to determine adequate time for finish a job is to LIMIT all activities to 25 minute slots. For example, if you want to write the lyrics of a song give yourself the constraints of 25 minutes to finish the WHOLE first draft. Then you can give yourself another 25 minutes to polish it up or start-over etc.

          This method requires discipline and full-concentration. Let me know if this helps (and give yourself time to get better at it!)

  • There is also a law around this :
    Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

    Just thought of sharing.
    Thanks 🙂

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