Sep 10 2008

How to become more productive in a smaller amount of time

Photo by Eschipul
Photo By Eschipul

I have found that the less time that I have to complete something the more productive I am with that time. For example, we can all remember the times in school that you had weeks to finish a project. There was plenty of time to complete the project before the due date, but I am almost sure that the weekend before the project was due (most likely that Monday) was the time that most of the project was done. You can blame most of the wasted time on procrastination, but I find that I act the same way in other areas. I will be more likely to eat some blueberries for a snack if there is a lot of them, but I will think twice about eating them if there are only a few left. I am more likely to cherish the last few far more than I did the first few. My time management is similar to this. If I have a week to work then I am not stressed to produce much, but I will focus a lot more if I have only a day to complete something. We can use this to our advantage though.

Using the limited time you have effectively

It isn’t always a bad thing that you wait until the last minute to start a project, but it leads to more stress and often times a less than desirable outcome. I know that I produce my worst work when I don’t have time to revise or even rethink the idea. Although you wait until the last minute you do complete the project, so it isn’t always a bad thing. First we have to understand that we will work harder when time is limited, so it makes sense to limit time more often. We are not as likely to waste as much time when there is less time to waste. If there is only an hour until a deadline, then if the project is not finished I am sure that very little time of that hour is wasted. On the other hand, if you have a day to complete it then the project is less likely to be worked on. We are not pressed for time, so we are more likely to go make that sandwich, play a game, do something other than work.

Trick yourself into being more productive in a short period of time

A great method to use is limiting the amount of time you work on a project. This will create a situation that you are pressed for time when you really aren’t. You might have a week to work on a project, but break up the time into short amounts. Perhaps you have a large paper due by next Monday. Here are a few tips to be more productive with your time:

1. Measure the time needed – You know that the paper will have to be five pages in merely a week. You know what you would be most comfortable producing, such as a page a day or even a half a page a day or more. Now that you know how much to get done each day you must decide how much time is required for each piece. Maybe producing a page would take an hour. The total amount of time should be only five hours.

2. Plan and assign a time to work on the project – You know that the project should take only five hours to complete, but if you were to attempt to sit down and do it all then it might not get done. I have trouble focusing on a project for an hour straight, but five hours is near impossible to be completely productive the whole time. There is no reason to waste time by being unproductive. Instead break up the task over a period you want, such as one hour devoted to the project a day. Plan for this hour, and make sure there are no distractions.

3. Using the time effectively – I have a bad habit of sitting down to work on something and having the best plan for what to do. Unfortunately sometimes I don’t do what I plan. I might sit there and stare at the computer for twenty minutes trying to form my ideas which makes the process take longer. If I think I am only going to work on the project for an hour and I don’t feel I have enough done in that hour I will stay there until I feel I have completed enough. This might be an extra hour or more. This tends to hurt my productivity because I am not using every minute as well as I could. Now that the project is only assigned an hour for this task, then that is all the time that we will use. This means if after an hour you only have half a page then you have to work harder in your hour tomorrow. You can write down any ideas for tomorrow, but try not to work on it anymore. You must use only the time that you have, and change to something else when the time is up.

Why you shouldn’t work longer

This starts to create a feeling that you really do have limited time even if you still have a week to do it. You are more likely to be productive in that next hour because you have a time frame. You will start to cherish that small amount of time to work. You won’t have to dread the task because you know it will only take as long as you want. You have to have realistic goals though. You can’t expect to produce a great paper in only twenty minutes a day. The short periods of intense work will work far better than long periods of small amount of productivity. You are more likely to come into the next hour of work with ideas and fuel to go the whole time if you know that you will be done at a set time. Set up a time period and start today!


1 Comments on this post


  1. Josten said:

    I agree about the working longer part. Because when we work longer we think that we are not going to have enough time for whatever it is we are trying to get accomplished. Therefore fear takes over.
    Good post

    September 21st, 2008 at 10:51 am


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