Monday, May 6, 2024

Monday, May 6, 2024

Monday, May 6, 2024

5 min read

5 min read

5 min read

How to FIX Procrastination (Once and For ALL)

How to FIX Procrastination (Once and For ALL)

How to FIX Procrastination (Once and For ALL)

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, the more time you allow yourself, the more time it will take. This is a simple way to summarize "Parkinson's Law."

Rest assured, this has nothing to do with Parkinson's disease. Today, we are going to discuss an interesting topic we recently came across: Parkinson's Law, the idea that the more time you allow yourself, the less progress is made and the further deadlines seem to slip away.

Because yes, planning everything in advance does not necessarily mean that everything will be done on time. In this article, we will delve into this formidable mystery and finally understand why we never manage to finish what we have to do on time. And as usual, we are sharing the best tips we've compiled for you!

Parkinson's Law

This theory is attributed to a British historian, Cyril Northcote Parkinson. In 1955, he published an essay in The Economist following a study he conducted. Parkinson explains that work tends to "expand" to fill the time available for its completion. Put simply: the more time you have to complete a task, the more time you will take to finish it.

| "It is the busiest man who has time to spare" — Cyril N. Parkinson

The reason behind this is straightforward: the more time one has, the more one allows oneself to be distracted or to procrastinate. Uninteresting tasks get added to the final objective. We end up multiplying a number of minor things to do, rather than dealing with the core of the subject. In 1957, Parkinson further theorized this phenomenon in what he called "Parkinson's Law of Triviality," which explains that we often tend to allocate too much time to trivial subjects rather than to truly important ones.

The 80-20 Rule (aka Pareto Principle)

Parkinson's Law of Triviality aligns with another principle, that of Pareto, also known as the 80-20 rule. Theorized by Vilfredo Pareto in the late 19th century, this principle explains that only 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.

  • In business: 20% of customers can generate 80% of the revenue

  • In gardening: 20% of plants can produce 80% of the harvests

  • In task management: 20% of tasks represent 80% of the final objective.

In summary, this means that not all tasks associated with a single project are needed; only 20% will have an impact. It is not necessary to divide one's attention to handle 100% of the tasks, but rather to select them based on relevance and usefulness. The idea is not to become negligent, but to give the most importance to what adds value and to eliminate what merely fills space.

The parallel that can be drawn with Parkinson's Law is that the more time we allow ourselves, the more we bury the main objective under low-value-added tasks. Sometimes, wouldn't it be better to allow ourselves less time to quickly get to the essentials rather than get lost on trivial matters?

Embrace Slow Productivity

One of the major problems we also encounter is multitasking and the desire to perform 40 tasks simultaneously. The result? By trying to do too much, we end up doing nothing.

Here, the goal is to take one's time. As Carl Honoré explains, "The 'Slow' philosophy isn't about doing everything at the speed of a snail, but about aiming to do everything at the right speed."

In essence, each action, each task has its own duration of completion. Don't try to compress this time or extend it unduly. Try to respect its temporality. Before each task, ask yourself honestly how much time you need to complete it (without neglecting quality). Then, try to stick to it. Too fast? You've probably overlooked something. Too short? You've wasted time somewhere you shouldn't have.

Note that there is a popular cognitive bias that leads people to believe humans are capable of multitasking. Know that this is not possible. According to a study conducted in 2017, the brain is simply not physically capable of handling multiple things at once.

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚡️

💜

🔒

⌨️

🌿

🌿

🌙

Our 3 tips for finishing on time

As always, we try to provide you with simple, ready-to-use advices so that you finish this article with real solutions. So here are our 3 tips to finally finish your work on time.

🪁 Anticipate Realistically

Hofstadter's Law explains that as a general rule, everything takes twice as long as expected. So when you start planning your work, try to aim wider than your first impression (stay reasonable, otherwise you risk procrastinating).

📆 Plan Smartly

When we start planning, we often go from the current date to the ideal target date. We think about all the stages we need to go through until the deadline. And naturally, we insert a bunch of steps, not necessarily useful (the famous Pareto principle).

For effective planning, the best method is backward planning: I start from the deadline and trace all the steps in reverse order (for example, for my blog post: "Formatting ← Illustrations ← Corrections ← Writing ← Research"). I know how long each stage takes me on average and when I need to publish this article. So, I arrange the steps in my calendar, and if I stick to my plan, I quickly find out when I need to start to finish on time!

🔒️ Block Distractions

The problem today is that procrastination has become the best friend of many services, including social media and streaming platforms. All tools are fair game for occupying my free time, and in this quest, all tricks are allowed. Algorithms, dark patterns, and other tactics are designed to keep you engaged on these platforms for as long as possible. So, take the initiative and block them!

To do this, you can use an app like Jomo, available for free on the App Store. With Jomo, you can quickly start focus sessions during which your most distracting apps will be blocked for several hours. You can use Strict Mode to completely lock the rule, leaving you no other choice but to get to work. You can also set your daily working hours to automatically block out distractions, so you don't have to remember to do it manually.

So if you thought you were the only one always pushing back deadlines, procrastinating, and eventually rushing everything at the last minute, you've understood that you are far from being alone. However, just because these issues are well-known doesn't mean we should simply give in. On the contrary, if studies expose the weaknesses of our brain, they usually come with analyses and advice on how to address them. So, don't hesitate to share this article or bookmark it for the next time you feel a slump!

🔗 Cyril N. Parkinson ; Parkinson's Law ; The Economist ; Parkinson's Law of Triviality ; Pareto's  | ✋ Illustrations by Jomo ; Photography Unsplash

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