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Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.”

Suddenly, the assignment is due in two days, and you’ve barely even started! You panic. You skim through the reading, type at lightning speed, guzzling down enough caffeine to keep you awake for days. Your assignment was on your boss’s desk on time.

Your strategy worked, but the rest of the day, you were left struggling to keep your eyes open, and your grade wasn’t that great. The assignment didn’t take long to complete. You had all the time in the world to work on it, so you didn’t. This story is all-too-common.

Procrastinating and then stressing yourself out to get all of our stuff done is something you probably still do today, albeit to a lesser degree. Because of it, you’re less effective than you could be, and you are spending more time than you should on easy tasks.

The More Time You Give A Task, The Longer It Will Take

Have you ever heard the saying, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”? This saying is Parkinson’s Law. Your tasks are like water…if you pour a cup of water into a bowl, the water will spread out, covering the extra space you gave it. A task that could fit into one hour will spread out to fill a week if you allow it.

Parkinson’s Law is all around you. You can find it at work, at home, and in schools with projects, chores, and pre-exam cramming. I doubt it will take you more than a minute to find an example from your own life. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s Law doesn’t work the other way around. Your work won’t shrink to fit the time you’ve allocated it.

People tend to give tasks a lot more time than needed, giving themselves room for procrastination and overthinking. Eliminating that extra time makes you focus on doing the work instead.

By acknowledging Parkinson’s Law, not only will you be able to complete most of your tasks in half the time and gain more free time, but you’ll also have a clearer mind as you’re not stressing over all the tasks have to do this week.

Now that you know what Parkinson’s Law is, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. Here are a few strategies to help you regain your time:

1. Assign All Your Tasks A Time Limit

The problem with to-do lists is that they tell you what to do but not when or for how long to do each activity. One way to fix this is to give each of your tasks a deadline and a time limit. Which tasks take longer to complete, the ones that bring you closer to your goals or the ones your boss assigns you?

I’ll bet it’s the ones your boss assigns you. Your boss gives you deadlines. You either complete it within the given timeline or you start looking for a new job. Most people have trouble sticking to deadlines they assign themselves. With no one holding them accountable, they know there will be no consequences for their inaction. If that’s you, have a friend hold you accountable or gamify the tasks by setting rewards and penalties.

2. Track Your Time

Now all your tasks have time limits, but how do you know whether that time limit is realistic? The answer is time tracking. Time trackers help you get a feel for how long certain activities take you. They give you insights into how you’re spending your time and how much time you’re wasting on distractions.

After using the time tracker, you’ll have a pretty good estimate of how long a certain task should take. You could even challenge yourself to complete that task quicker than you did the previous day.

“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.” – Alexis Carrel

3. Schedule Your Tasks In 30-Minute Chunks

People usually schedule their days by the hours. At 9:00, do this and at 10:00, do that. But, many tasks don’t need an hour. You could easily complete them in 15-30 minutes. So instead of giving each of your tasks an hour, try scheduling your day in 30-minute chunks.

Use the insights you discovered from your time tracking to determine how many portions a task requires. Using the Pomodoro technique has the same effect; work in short sprints, giving your full attention to one task for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break.

4. Break Down Complex Projects

Some projects are so complicated you don’t even know where to start. For these tasks, it’s very easy to overestimate the time required to complete them. The truth is projects like these are just a group of many tasks. By breaking down the project into individual tasks, you can set a time limit for each task, and from there, determine how long the entire project will take you.

For example, say you wanted to start a blog. The tasks would be to set up web hosting, design the blog, and write 10 posts. By knowing what the tasks are and estimating how long each of these tasks would take, you can create a relatively accurate timeline.

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

5. Set a Time To Stop Working For The Day

You have a lot to do. I get that. Usually, this means you have work overflowing out of the office and into your home. You have to get this work done today—it doesn’t matter whether it’s done in the office or at home. You let the work expand to fill the extra time you gave it.

Instead, try setting a deadline for your office work. For example, your entire to-do list must be done by 5 PM…no negotiations allowed. You’ll be surprised how much quicker your work will be done. Without that overflowing work, you can relax and enjoy the rest of your day.

Parkinson’s Law is an observation based on how people use their time. By acknowledging this law, you can take the steps to avoid falling in its snare. 

How do you prioritize your time to get everything done? Share your advice with us below!

Layla Ashraf, founder of ShutUpAndAchieve.com, is a driven achiever who inspires people to take control of their lives. She spreads the idea of wholesome productivity, helping achievers multiply their time, set realizable goals, and live their wildest dreams while still having time to focus on what matters most. Double your productivity by joining the FREE 15-Day Productivity Challenge.

Life

How to Write a Personal Destiny Statement in 3 Steps

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We all have a God-given destiny to fulfill that we were each born with. I personally believe it is buried deep down within us. The number one secret to success is to let it emerge out of you and release it to the world. What is my destiny you may ask? It is the thing you would regret not doing before leaving Planet Earth. (more…)

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Life

Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Life

6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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how to increase your creativity faster
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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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Life

3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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