Live Like a Mensch: Work Expands to the Time Allotted

  • My mother always told me that housework expands to the time allotted. Which means that planning for the dishes to take an hour to clean will ensure that they do.


    It wasn't until I went looking that I discovered this principle was first coined by a man with the 50-cent name of Cyril Northcote Parkinson, back in 1955. (In actuality, Parkinson's words were: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.) Good old Cyril had worked in the British Civil Service, which meant he'd watched bureaucracy in "action" for years, and that is what prompted his observation.


    I am finding that Parkinson's Law is a constant companion in my work-from-home career.


    Each weekday, I have approximately 5 hours to myself in which to get my writing done. Once upon a time, when I was regularly engaging in the National Novel Writing Month challenge to create a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days, I discovered that I could draft 2000 words in an hour and a half. Granted, since I was making everything up back in those days (meaning minimal research), I know that my time should be a little slower when writing a personal finance article these days. However, I think I could safely say that at my fastest, five hours should be more than enough time for me to write three 500 word articles.


    Guess how much I actually get done...



    Okay, I won't make you guess. After five hours at my computer, generally I have one article done to completion and I have half completed another one.


    However, I also average about 17.5 liked/commented upon Facebook statuses, 5 email breaks, 2 Cracked articles read, 43 comments on a news article read, one forehead vein popped (generally in reaction to the aforementioned comments on a news article), and no fewer than 32.7 minutes spent dillying between various interesting articles that could potentially become fodder for a future piece but probably won't because I never remember to bookmark them and can't find them again.


    While I'm pleased to report that recent studies have shown that being easily distracted is a sign of creativity, I do wish someone would offer some suggestions for how we creative types can increase our productivity in the age of the Internet. Because kittens and memes and full episodes of my favorite television shows, oh my!


    So, my plan is to allot myself less time. I'm going to break up my 5 hour work time into smaller chunks, and try to beat the clock. In fact, to write this piece, I set a timer for 25 minutes. (Which I blew right past, sadly, but we're talking baby steps here).


    We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping that I will at least average fewer popped forehead veins, which will be good for all involved.


    How do you ensure that you stay productive when the siren song of the whole of human knowledge is a mere click away on the Internet?


  • haverwench
    haverwench By steadfastly refusing to get a Facebook account.
    June 30, 2014
  • chanyuan
    chanyuan yaoxuemei20180505  more
    May 4

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