One thing that unifies all of us, human beings, is our endless complaining. We spend hours complaining about how much work we have and then spend a few more hours complaining about how little time we have! If we want to take our life to the next level, we need to be ready to accomplish more work in the given time! That brings me to the million dollar question —
How do we accomplish more in the given time?
It was beautiful Saturday morning in the brilliant city of Bangalore. Like every dedicated software engineer, I was spending my Saturday morning, working on a critical project. My goal was to complete the coding for one of two features. I started at around 9 a.m. and worked until I got distracted at 10 a.m by Facebook videos. I spent the next hour looking at senseless videos and decided to get back to work by 11.30 a.m. Being a man of my word, I went back to writing code at 11.30 a.m. sharp. But it took me 20 mins to get back into my ‘zone’. I focused on work for the next hour or so and the whole cycle repeated itself, this time with a different distraction. I had always wished to spend my weekend, cycling around Bangalore, but there I was caught in a vicious cycle of working, getting distracted and figuring out my ‘zone’. That single feature had taken over 20 hours of my precious weekend time.
Having completed the first feature, I went to office on Monday, in hopes of completing the second one. As both features had similar complexities, I had estimated a total time of 25 hours for completing the second feature. That estimate went down the drain when the team started looking at the project holistically. To ensure timely release of the project, I HAD to deliver the second feature by 9 p.m. that day. I settled into my desk at around 12.30 p.m. and started a focussed coding session. My efforts bore fruit and I was able to deliver the second feature well within 9 p.m. that day.
2 features. Similar complexities. Different completion times. Why?
As I look back to those two instances, I realize that reason for swift action in the second instance can be attributed majorly to the strict deadline —
- The strict deadline made me understand that limited nature of time. As time was limited and action was necessary, I had no option but to focus.
- The strict deadline bestowed a sense of responsibility within me. As a result of that, I made the wise choice of not indulging in distractions.
- The strict deadline reduced my turn around time because work was always on top of my mind.
In a simple, unintentional experiment a strict deadline was able to reduce the time I needed to complete my work by a factor of two. The success of this experiment pushed me to impose strict deadlines to every task I do and I must say, my productivity has catapulted!
If you wish to accomplish more, commit to working less by setting up a strict deadline.