21 Ways of Getting Things Done
In this series we’ll take a look at the reasons people procrastinate and tips on overcoming the habit.
Strategy 2: Remember the Laws
Three laws—or rules—apply when combatting procrastination: Parkinson’s Law, Newton’s Law, and Murphy’s Law.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson was a British author who once worked for the civil service. After seeing all of its bureaucracy, he famously came up with the maxim: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” meaning that if we allow a week for a task that should take one day, we will automatically make that task more complex (or waste more time) so that it really does take a full week to complete it. So, keeping that law in mind, Lifehack.org suggests you do the reverse. List your daily or weekly tasks; then cut the estimated time in half. Chances are you will find yourself unable to procrastinate because you know you have less time to do it in and be more focused on completing each task.
The great scientist Sir Isaac Newton formulated the Laws of Motion, the first of which states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion (and the opposite; an object at rest tends to stay at rest). Once you decide to work on a project or finish a task, it’s easier to get it done after the gears are already rolling. The hardest part is mentally overcoming the inertia of getting started. Set your mind to start and then keep going.
Finally—and unfortunately—there is Murphy’s Law to contend with; the idea that if anything can go wrong it will. Give yourself enough time to adjust for complications and interruptions. Did you ever begin to make cookies or cake and after adding most of the ingredients to the bowl discover you’re out of eggs? Stuff happens. Taking that into account when planning your day will help keep you from feeling rushed and frazzled, and at least reduce some aggravation when something goes awry.
The result of using these three “Laws”? You’ll end up with more free time at the end of the work week (and perhaps the end of the day). Then you can properly enjoy it, guilt-free!