There was a time in my life when I was working 10-12 hour days spread across two jobs. I was also working on launching my e-commerce store during this time. This post was written during that time and will share the lessons I learnt about how limited spare time was the catalyst I needed to change my mindset and productivity habits.
I currently work long hours at my two jobs. I made a vow to myself at the start of this year to get rid of years of accumulated personal debt by taking on another job. 10-15 hours a day is typical for me at the moment. It’s a short-term arrangement, but it has taught me an important lesson in critical focus time. I was under the impression when I started working longer days, that those days would essentially be write-offs in doing anything remotely productive outside of my paying job. I thought that my days off would be the days that matter, the days that pushed me forward in my endeavour to launch my e-commerce store. I never suspected that the opposite would be true. On my days off I would look productive from the outside, I would actually be working a lot on launching online shop, yet I wasn’t really working efficiently – I just looked busy.
Take action each and every day
Surprisingly, the days where I typically only have a very short amount of free time, I achieve a heck of a lot more. Why? It’s simply because I have critical focus and positive time constraints on my side. When I know that I will only have a scarce amount of disposable free time that day, I want to make sure that I use that time effectively. I schedule a short burst of critical focus time into my day before I head off for work in the morning and make sure that I complete at least one small action on my project’s to-do list, a task that will push me forward in launching my online shop. There’s no room for procrastination and leaving the task for later on that day, it needs to completed right then and there in my critical focus time. The limited time constraints forces me to only work on what’s important right now.
Another way of looking at this is Parkinson’s law. Parkinson’s law is the adage that “Work expands to fill the time available for completion”. This relates to the theory that a task becomes more complicated and involved depending on how much time you have allocated to complete it. A good way to illustrate this further are college written assignments. These assignments would usually be given months in advance with a strict deadline. Some students would get started right away and given their time advantage would often produce very intricate assessment pieces which were bounded beautifully and inclusive of many non-required additional features. The other group of students would generally leave the assessment to complete within the last week or so. Their submission would have no bells and whistles but would meet all the requirements. The assessors would generally only mark the students on the content ‘the core’ of the assessment, so at the end of the day the bells and whistles made no significant difference in that context.
Now I am not advising students to leave their assessment pieces to the last minute – that’s never a good idea. I am merely trying to illustrate that you should never allow a shortage of time to be an excuse for not getting things done. Perhaps your limited free time means that you need to launch a website or business without the bells and whistles for now and just launch it with the core features. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back and add the bells and whistles later, but what it does mean is that you are committed to making progress and moving forward and working on the core tasks that will propel your project forward.
I get so disheartened when I hear people complain that they feel stuck within their job and have no time to move forward. They want to pick a new field to study or launch a business yet they deny themselves that change they so deeply desire as they don’t perceive that they have any time available to follow through. If you complete just one small task consistently each by the end of a week, a month and a year you would have taken a giant step forward. If you fail to make a commitment to take those small actions each day you may very well be standing still in a years time.
If you only do one simple action each day to move you towards your goal you are on the right path. You will never get to where you want to go unless you not only take that first scary step, but commit to taking one small step, an action, each day. If you need some specific goal setting advice Michael Hyatt has written a great guide about goal setting.
If you get nothing else out of this website. If you never read another post I write please promise me one thing, and that is that you will take action towards your goals today. What are your goals? what are you working towards? Let me know in the comments below