Can you increase productivity with less time? Does it should too good to be true? This is actually a true statement in so many situations. So let’s take a closer look at what makes us more productive. Because I am here to tell you that ‘more time’ is not the answer.
Less Time Leads to Increased Productivity
It will not be the case in every situation. But in most situations, we tend to be more productive with less time.
Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in a situation when you get a phone call from a friend or a family member telling you that they are in the area and will stop by your house for a cup of coffee in about 15 minutes? You look around the house it and it’s a complete disaster. The toys are all over the living area, you are in the middle of folding laundry, and the sink is full of dishes. And you would simply prefer for your friend/family member was not to witness all this chaos.
So what do you do? Boy does our productivity skyrocket in those 15 minutes! You go through your house with intention and clean up the space. At the end of those 15 minutes your house looks very presentable. And I can guarantee you that if you would have 30 minutes instead of 15 you would end up with pretty much the same result. Sure, you might be less sweaty from all the running around ;), but the level of cleanliness would be probably the same.
Why Does It Work?
I don’t know about you but I’m very productive and efficient in situations like that. Situations where I have a limited amount of time to get something established.
Obviously this needs to be a reasonable timeframe. I’m not talking about writing a 350-page book in 2 days and it being an awesome read. What we are talking about here is situations with a reasonable amount of time to complete. But not long enough for you to have unlimited amount of time for planning and execution.
What Happens to Our Productivity When You Have Too Much Time to Complete Something?
Let me give you an example of how that works for me. Let’s say I have a project come up that I estimate should take me about 2 days to complete. However, I want to give myself some buffer and also some extra time to decide on specific aspects of the project and extend that timeline to 5 days.
Guess what will likely happened? I will take all those 5 days to complete that project. But if I would have given myself just 2, I would end up with the same end result!!!
That is because I will spend most of those 3 extra days procrastinating or daydreaming when I should be doing the work. My productivity decreases during that time. And that is because I don’t feel that pressure of completing the project as soon as possible. I know in the back of my head that I have plenty of time.
And this is what is happening in a lot of other situations in our lives. I think that when we feel some pressure with respect to a deadline we are more likely to be more productive.
What is the lesson here?
Oftentimes, we don’t go after our dreams or work on our goals because we don’t think we have enough time. So set up some time limits for yourself and see where it will take you.
You can accomplish so much more than you think in the limited time that you have!
Now, don’t think I’m implying that we should hurry all the time and constantly be super productive. Because that is not the case. Quite the opposite! If you set specific deadlines to complete some tasks – you will get to spend that ‘saved’ time on things that you actually enjoy.
If you spend less time cleaning, you can spend more time playing with your kids. If you spend less time grocery shopping and cooking you can dedicate that time to your side hassle.
It’s all about better time management and not letting the limited time that you have stop you from going after you goals, dreams, and the work life balance that you actually want!
RELATED: Work-Life Balance: Misconceptions That Hold You Back
Steps to Take Increase Productivity with Less Time
Here are some of the things that I have implemented myself that help me be more productive with less time.
Plan Your Deadlines Carefully
Be very careful when assessing how much time something will take you. Be realistic but don’t give yourself too much of a buffer! It needs to be a reasonable time, because you don’t want to be rushed all the time. But you need some sense of urgency to help you focus and be more productive. If you give yourself too much time you will simply fill it up with random things instead of doing what you are supposed to be doing.
Break Large Projects Into Smaller Tasks
When you are working on a larger project make sure you break it down into smaller tasks. Because having large projects can sometimes be very overwhelming. Let’s say you have a project that you think will take you five hours to complete. You are procrastinating and not working on it because you are constantly looking for that five-hour stretch of time when you could complete it.
But guess what? Finding 5 hours of uninterrupted time in any of your days might very difficult (or flat out impossible in most cases). Instead, break it down into smaller tasks and maybe dedicate one hour to each tasks. That is much easier to manage. And your productivity will increase!
Use Time Management Techniques
Using different time management techniques will also help you increase your productivity with less time. For example, you can use Pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes and give yourself 5 minutes break. And reapeat the process for an hour or hour and a half.
Or you can use time blocking technique, where you dedicate a set amount of time in your day to work on a specific task. Both of those techniques have that limited time component associated with it.
Set Timers for Smaller Activities
And for those smaller tasks, I highly suggest setting your timer. Two examples come to mind. The first one is work related. If your inbox is overwhelming with the number of unanswered emails, set up your timer for 15 minutes and concentrate on that task only. Because you know you only have 15 minutes you will be much more decisive what emails to delete, which ones to file away as reference and which one to answer.
The second example is related to cleaning. Maybe you noticed that your night stand is getting out of hand, set a timer for 10 minutes. Knowing that your time is running out (literally) makes you work that much faster. Try it out! I promise you will be surprised how much you can actually get done in a little time.
When do you think you are most productive? When you have a limited amount of time or when you have all the time you want? Please share below! I would love to hear your point of view.