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Work expands to fit the time allotted

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Here's an interesting theory. Have you ever noticed that a task you're trying to do fits pretty neatly into whatever time you have available? If you have 2 hours available to do a job, I bet you that it will take you roughly 2 hours to finish it, maybe just a few minutes more or less. But you probably also remember that the same job only took an hour the last time you did it (probably because in that instance you only had one hour available).

We all know that there are only 60 minutes in every hour. But somehow time stretches and expands or shrinks depending on how we use it. And if we use it wisely we can fit a lot more in those 60 minutes per hour.

That's why the productivity hack I shared in the last blog post is so powerful. Speed dating your to-do list forces you to spend only 5 or 10 minutes on each task at a time, thereby speeding you up. You get more done in less time. Tasks that might have taken an hour, might be done in 20 minutes. I've experienced it. It works.

How can you harness this wonder of time?

  • Set a timer

How long do you think a task is going to take? Let's say it's one hour. Great. Set yourself a timer and see if you can do it in 50 minutes. If you can't, you can give yourself another 10 minutes and finish. If you can, you've just gained 10 minutes to do something else with. Start the next task or have a little break.

  • Plan ahead

You know from experience how long a job takes. This means you can plan x many tasks into your day. Add in a little buffer time for unplanned interruptions, but otherwise stick to the plan. Don't use up time just because it's there. Use it wisely; it is a limited resource.

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