One of my favorite concepts in psychology is called “Parkinson’s Law.” It suggests that work will expand to fill the time that was allotted for it.
You might think of it as a measure of inefficiency.
For example, if we leave three hours to do something, that tends to be the amount of time it takes, even if the task could have been done in a shorter period of time.
You can flip this concept around (and become more efficient) by setting time limits that are about or a little bit less than what you estimate it would take to actually do that task.
The work will tend to “contract” to fit that time, just as it expands if we leave too much time.
This concept is related to something you may have already heard of called the “self-fulfilling prophecy effect” in psychology: We tend to get what we expect.
Here is an example from my own business: If I think it’s going to take about an hour to finish up a report that I’ve already been working on, sometimes I will set a timer for a little bit less than that — 45 minutes.
The results? I usually finish the task in that time or even less. In fact, sometimes I completed it in less than half the predicted time.
I believe that’s because I have not only blocked the time, but also there is a slight bit of urgency or pressure that helps me focus even more.
Try this as a way of corralling the time you have to accomplish something. You might even experiment a little bit to see if you can finish it in even less time than you had predicted.
My prediction? Your work life is about to get a lot more efficient.
Question: Is there a specific task you regularly do where you think time-blocking might help you accomplish it more efficiently?