That task was only supposed to take a few minutes, but it ended up taking all afternoon.
A co-worker asked, “Can I have a minute?” And you were tied up for 2 hours.
And that 30-minute meeting dragged on for 3 hours.
Some activities will take up all of your time if you let them.
You need hard time stops to prevent them from filling all of your available time.
Ever Expanding Tasks
Ever have one seemingly simple task take up your whole day?
You told yourself that you would only spend 30 minutes on it, but soon that one task has expanded to fill your entire day.
Parkinson’s Law states that: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If you’re not careful, your work, meetings, email, and more… will gladly take up your entire existence.
Putting Hard Time Stops on Your Activities
To prevent your work from expanding to fill your life, you need to put hard stops on them.
“Sometimes it’s more productive to stop something even if you aren’t done yet.” (Tweet this quote)
Hard time limits can be a huge productivity saver.
You need to establish a maximum amount of time per task. Setting an actual timer is a good technique.
It may seem like you are stopping something short. However, you are stopping so that you can start working on something more important.
Here are 7 of Activities That You Need to Put Hard Time Stops On:
- Interruptions – When something (or someone) interrupts your current priority, put a limit on the interruption. When someone says, “Can I have 2 minutes?” …make sure it stays at 2 minutes. Limiting interruptions takes discipline, but it can be done.
- Meetings – End meetings on time even if they are still going. Respect all participants time and calendars. Have a visible clock that everyone can see. Stop when time is up, even if the conversation is not over.
- Email – Set a time limit for processing email. Email is not your job. Get out of your inbox and do your work.
- Play – Too much of even a good thing can be excessive. (Ever need a vacation from your vacation?) Don’t overdo it to the point that your job, health, or relationships are impacted.
- Jobs – How long are you going to “hang out” at that job that you do not enjoy or value? Once it’s time to move on, put a deadline on finding that next job or career. Otherwise, you will wake up many years hence, in the exact same position.
- Decisions – If you put off decisions long enough, life will make them for you. Put time limits on your decisions. Make timely choices so that you choose your own path in life.
- Complaining – Complaining doesn’t get anything done. Some people spend their entire life complaining. Instead of whining about what isn’t going your way, go out and do something about it.
Necessary Time Limits
Time limits. Deadlines. Stop points.
Put hard boundaries on the activities that expand to fill your time.
By stopping them short, you’ll be ahead to get ahead on the things that are important.
Question: What activities and tasks do you need to put hard stops on? You can leave a comment by clicking here.