Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
If you’re like most people, you probably work 8 to 5, or on some sort of fixed time work week, for a fixed monthly pay. How do you work on your average 8 hour day?
Try this exercise, log how you actually spend your 8 hour workdays in the office for a week. All you need is pen and paper, keep it on your desk and just write down the time and task you’re working on when you start. And when you finish, note down the time and write next to your task a brief summary of how it went, how focused you were, whether you were multi-tasking or doing anything else, and etc.
Disclaimer: This post probably doesn’t apply to workaholics.
You will most probably realize three things. One, you can’t focus very well and keep getting distracted. Two, you don’t actually spend 8 hours working, it’s more like 4, or maybe less if you exclude all those microbreaks in between. And three, you find yourself dreading work and hope time would move faster. In the end, you probably did about 2 hour’s worth of work?
Now suppose you can only work 2 hours a day instead of 8, with the same boatloads of tasks to complete, but after 2 hours, you’re done for the day and free to go. I know, it sounds like a dream and would probably never happen, but if you’re still working remotely, you can totally give this a try.
Try it for a day, you can surely get away with that, and just work for 2 hours and spend the rest of your day off. You’ll find that with only 2 hours to work, you’re more focused and motivated to do things.
The shift in mindset is amazing, 8 hours is a really long time and doesn’t leave you much time for leisure or pursuing your own hobbies. But 2 hours? You can work for 2 hours, it’s really motivating as well since now you’ll have the rest of your day to enjoy. Heck, you might even be surprised to have gotten more done in 2 hours than 8!
The only caveat is that you must not be interrupted during your workday, something that’s extremely common in the office environment. I don’t have an answer to that yet, other than something similar to the academic office hours, and that is probably the single biggest source of frustration among knowledge workers. Random people, random questions, all at their own convenience, sucking away your precious time and attention.