Want to know THE secret every project manager must know to great time management and improved productivity? Alright, brace yourselves. The time management/productivity hack all project managers need to know is Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.
Time management is all psychological. We naturally pace ourselves to finish a project in the nick of time. The same task can take one hour or one week depending on how much time we give ourselves to complete it. Ever pull off a big presentation where your only prep was during your commute on the way over? The law is true!
In order to maximize efficiency at work, check out these productivity hacks that will improve your time management with Parkinson’s Law in mind.
Make Deadlines for EVERYTHING
Don’t let any task, no matter how small, have an undefined deadline. Undefined deadlines create undefined game plans. Encourage momentum by tagging everything with a due date. Play a little game, challenge yourself to answer all emails in less than 5 minutes. The next day try to do it in under 3.
In your calendar, push all deadlines up by a day. Or, take the more adventurous route and move the deadlines up on all your projects, but by different amounts. The psychological nature of Parkinson’s law will have to take place because you won’t remember when everything is actually due, so you will do them all earlier.
Track Your Time
How can you maximize your productivity if you don’t even know how long you’ve been working on a task? It’s important to regularly monitor your project’s work hours. Encourage a daily submission rule for time logs to improve submission accuracy and keep time tracking up-to-date.
Time tracking encourages you to be hyper-aware of a project’s progress. Using data from time tracking, allot 25% less project time to your next project to employ Parkinson’s law for maximum efficiency.
My personal favorite! Parkinson’s Law tells us we can accomplish things in much less time than we think, which is excellent news because our brains work best if we take a small break after 90 minutes of work. Working straight for periods longer than that just leaves us tired and our quality of work goes straight out the door. So yes, let it be known, not doing work actually helps your productivity.
Remember these tips and Parkinson’s Law the next time you undertake a project, and use your extra time to take up golf or crochet or something.
Image credit, DazT, Flickr