I’ve been talking a lot about time on social media lately. My ideas about time really hit home last weekend at GiveCamp. For those of you who don’t have a know, GiveCamp is a big group of coders, designers, writers, developers and database geeks who get together to help a group of charities build prettier, more useful websites and databases. It’s a weekend of working like crazy-people and eating fabulous things provided by rockin’ sponsors. The biggest issue at GiveCamp (aside form lack of sleep, overcaffeination and a minor tussle over the last box of grape nerds) is time.
Tasks never take the amount of time you expect. Most people underestimate the time it takes to complete a project. You can’t write a novel in a month. Even the NaNoWriMo folks acknowledge that they need another month for editing. Don’t beat yourself up if your ebook isn’t done at the end of the weekend.
On the flip side, that thing your dreading probably won’t take as long as you think. That phone call you’ve been putting off, will probably be over before you finish whining about having to make it. For bigger tasks you don’t want to do, set a kitchen timer. Work on it for 10 or 15 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes. Bonus, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you accomplish. The kitchen timer is a great tool for bookkeeping. It also works for time-sucks. Example: I use Pinterest a lot. It generates a significant amount of traffic. It is also a time suck. Using the timer keeps my Pinterest usage to a reasonable level.
work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Parkinson’s Law was first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson. If you find yourself spending 4 hours on a 350 word blog post, try playing with deadlines. Give yourself a set amount of time to complete a project and avoid the project expanding. Whenever anyone tells me to finish a task when i have a chance, I create an arbitrary deadline for it. Otherwise, it ends up on the bottom of the list and doesn’t get done. Deadlines can be your friend.