When we are faced with a mountain of work, we frequently long for more hours in the day. “If I only had more time!” we cry in despair. We assume that if we simply had more time available to us, it would be far easier to accomplish all of our necessary tasks. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true.
For the last few weeks of the school year, I was counting down the hours until summer. I had so many projects I wanted to start and was thrilled I would soon have 6-8 hours a day to devote to the cause. However, summer is now here, and while I have crossed many things off my to-do list, I can’t say as I’ve been the productivity machine I thought I’d be. I have more time available now, and yet I seem to be accomplishing roughly the same amount each day that I did during the last month of the school year. Why?
Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” When presented with more time, it is easier to allow our current work to expand than to actually utilize our extra hours to get more done. Having more time in your schedule only actually helps if you’re able to focus and use that time effectively.
After analyzing my schedule, here are three things I’m going to do to better utilize my summer time:
1) Get up earlier
During the school year, I get up at 5:00am. In the summer, since I have a more flexible schedule, I’ve been getting up at 8:00am. Not only that, but I take twice as long to get ready in the morning since I’m not strictly watching the clock. This all adds up to losing about 4 hours of my precious, energetic morning time that I could spend doing something meaningful; like getting in the workout I swear I “never have time for.”
2) Shrink my to-do list
In anticipation of my summer schedule, I added many more items to my to-do list that I never found time for during the year. However, I didn’t stop to think if those extra items were necessary. I found myself trying to move in ten different directions at once, and then wondering why I was losing my focus. Instead of adding tasks to my to-do list, I should have been looking for ways to add more time to the items already on it!
One of the benefits of my hectic schedule during the school year is that I didn’t have much time for distractions. Now, with a little more time, I find myself out of practice with fending off Time Killers. I have to retrain myself to stop checking my email constantly and picking up the phone every time it rings, even if I’m in the middle of something.
More time doesn’t always mean more accomplishments. Make sure you have a clear focus and aren’t wasting your time with unessential or unimportant tasks before trying to add more hours to your workday.
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Photo Credit: Graur Codrin