If only I was a Time Lord


You’ve got a bunch of letters or documents to write. Two hours later, when you should have been long done, you’re still writing. Or re-writing. Before you know it, your day is half gone and you’re behind schedule.

Sound familiar?

The problem is explained by “Parkinson’s Law,” which says that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Give yourself an hour to catch up on correspondence and you’ll use that hour. Even though you could have finished in 30 minutes.

And therein lies the answer to getting more done in less time. Get in the habit of giving yourself less time than you think you’ll need.

Allocate 30 minutes for dictation instead of an hour. Give yourself one day to finish a brief that’s due in two weeks.

The more time you allocate to a task or project, the more complex it tends to become. When you have less time, you are forced to keep things as simple as possible.

When it comes to managing time, one of my weak spots has always been research. I often go down a lot of rabbit holes, spending hours and sometimes entire days trying to find what I need. The problem is I don’t always know what I need or I’m not always sure when I’ve found it.

That’s no way to run a business.

So now, I give myself a fixed amount of time. One hour of research, for example, because I can do a lot in one hour and if that’s all I have, that’s all I usually need.

If you want to start a blog or newsletter but are concerned it will take too much time from your other work, give yourself the amount of time you think you can allocate, and no more. The odds are that’s all the time you’ll need.

Yes, you do have time to get more referrals


Getting things done by giving yourself less time to do them


In an interview, author Jodi Picoult was asked about her approach to writing. She said:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Yep. That just about sums up my thoughts about writer’s block. It’s also a good metaphor for other things on our plate, especially things we’ve been putting off or have struggled to complete.

What project would you like to do but have told yourself you don’t have the time? The truth is, you might not be doing it because you have too much time.

I’ve found this to be a bigger issue for me since I stopped seeing clients and started working from home. Not having appointments and deadlines and due dates has resulted in my continually “not having enough time” to do things, and the things I have done have taken much longer than they should.

There’s one project I’ve had on the back burner for an eternity. I wasn’t close to starting, let along finishing. But about a week ago, I gave myself a deadline to finish it before the end of the month. With that due date looming, in one day I was able to make enormous progress and I am certain I will finish on time.

Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it’s completion,” or something like that. The trick, then, is to allot less time. Perhaps a lot less.

Pretend you’re back in school and everything has a due date and serious consequences for missing it. Choose something on your list that you think might require a week or a month to complete and commit to doing it this weekend.

You might not finish it but you will surely make a lot of progress. You also might surprise yourself and get it done.

Get more things done by getting better at delegating. This will help


How to earn more by working less


No doubt you’ve heard of Parkinson’s Law, which says that, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

Translation: most people waste time.

You can get more done in less time by allocating less time to tasks and projects. That means allocating one hour for a task instead of two hours. Or assigning a due date in 48 hours instead of a week.

Having less time available gives you greater focus. You make quicker decisions. You let go of perfectionism. And you work faster.

You get more done in less time because of Horstman’s Corollary to Parkinson’s Law: “Work contracts to fit in the time we give it.”

Translation: you waste less time.

The problem is, when you’re in charge, you can do what you want to. If you want to extend a self-imposed deadline, you do it. Hey, nobody will know.

One solution, which I have talked about before, is to make sure that somebody does know. Make yourself accountable to your clients, your spouse, your employer, your staff, or your Maker. Tell people what you’re doing and when you’ll finish. Make it a promise or guarantee. And ask them to hold you accountable.

You can also train yourself to set and keep shorter deadlines by continually reminding yourself of the benefits for doing so.

Every day, spend a minute or two cogitating about the benefits of getting more done in less time. Think about how much more you earn by completing projects in less time. Think about how much extra time you have for other paying work. Think about how much extra time you have with your family or for doing other things you enjoy.

At the start of your day, look at your task list and calendar and make a conscious effort to shorten due dates and assign less time to tasks. At the end of the day, record how much time you saved on each task. At the end of the week, add up the amount of time you put into your “bank”.

What about work that is billed by the hour? If you can draft a document in one hour instead of two, you must do so. Raise your hourly rates accordingly because apparently, you are worth more than you thought.

Or, as I have repeatedly suggested, move away from hourly billing to flat fee or project based billing, which is ultimately better for you and for the client.

Don’t sell your time. It’s limited. Sell your advice, value, or work product, and earn more by working less.

More on how to earn more and work less: The Formula