Today I want to ask you one question. Do you find yourself saying “This task took longer than I thought”? If you do, this article is just for you!
Recently I noticed that several of my private clients said exactly this, and I thought if they are experiencing this problem, then there is a chance you might be experiencing a similar challenge as well.
Today I would like to talk about why is it happening and what you can do about it.
When you say: “This task took longer than I thought”, what has probably happened is that you’ve set yourself a personal deadline, or maybe you had an external deadline to complete your project, you broke the project down into several smaller tasks, then you did one task and it took longer than you thought, then the next task took also longer than you thought, and soon you found yourself missing your own deadline or the external deadline you were given.
As the result you get frustrated with yourself wondering why can’t you manage it, why is it taking so much longer?… Then the negative thoughts come in such as: “I am not good enough, I don’t know enough, I am not as effective with my time as I should be”. And of course these thoughts are not helping you with completing your project…
Today I want to suggest to you how to look at it differently, and how to help yourself to become more effective with your time.
When you say: “This task took longer than I thought”, it is almost like you give your own power away and say: “This task has the power over my time”. But the thing is – and this is a universal law – that the work takes ALL the time available. If you allow the task to take any amount of your time then the work will expand proportionally to the time available.
What you probably find yourself doing often, consciously or subconsciously – and it is a big challenge for many people – is that you allow other people and circumstances enter your life and take your time away, as if you don’t own your time.
As the first strategy for today I would like to suggest that you start viewing your time differently, and start realising that you own your time. You can actually decide how much time you give to certain tasks, to certain projects, to certain people, and to certain commitments – it’s YOUR time. No one can come and take it away from you unless you let them.
It was exactly the shift I have experienced when I realised that I own my time and I can decide how much time I spent on things.
As the second strategy I want to suggest that when you have a certain project and you have broken it down into smaller well-defined parts, estimate how much time each task will take and then give a set amount of time to this task. You are no longer saying “I wonder how long this task is going to take”; you say “I am giving this task a set amount of time to be completed”. And if you cannot estimate the amount of time needed for completion of the task, then maybe you need to break it down into more defined tasks, where you know how much time you would need to complete each task. Also it takes practice to be able to estimate correctly how much time each task will take. So keep practicing!
What happens when you say: “I give this task the set amount of time” is that you become focused and aim at completing this task during the set time imperfectly. And it does not mean that you will end up with a bad or incomplete piece of work, quite the opposite. What often happens is that you become much more focused and effective during this set amount of time and work effectively towards the deadline you set for yourself. Also once completed imperfectly you can always go back to revise and improve and it all often take little extra time.
To confirm the above, I’ve just heard from one of my private clients with whom we had a VIP session this week, who said she completed a piece of writing of 2500 words from scratch within just 3 hours of focused work.
Your Productivity for Scientists Assignment for this week:
- start looking at your time differently, realising that you own your time. Also, you can now start saying “I give this set amount of time to this task” instead of wondering how long does this task is going to take from you.
- When you break your project down into smaller tasks, give them very short deadlines and focus on these tasks during these well defined periods of time.
In the comments below please share if you have also struggled with tasks taking longer than you planned, and how the above strategies are helping you to get the work done in a shorter time.