“The more you do, the more you do “ principle.
This essay was written as a reminder and proof that you should not worry about engaging in activities even if “you don’t have time”.
Productivity, efficiency. Two keywords that speak to many and scare others. I won’t go into detailing why you should you do more (or not). Everyone has his or her reasons but it took me about 2 years and getting a full-time job to discover that one principle that I’ve been trying to stick to ever since I came up with it.
Right before I started working at Monbanquet I was concerned about one thing: that I would not be able to do anything else. Indeed, I had never had that much work in before. Who would have thought that being a full-time employee really did mean “full time”? I certainly didn’t. It took me a few months to get to the right pace without feeling exhausted at the end of the day. Obviously I loved what I was doing, but it felt like a compromise. One can only do one thing well at a time.
That was until I met other people that didn’t seem to have the same notion of time as I did. A friend of mine was going to the swimming pool before work. Wait.. that seemed crazy, it meant waking up at 6 AM and going for a swim from 7 to 8. I knew I wasn’t a morning person but I did that small thing that changed everything. I sent him this text:
I’ll be there with you tomorrow morning at the pool
And that was it, it was settled, I could not clear off anymore, I had made a promise. Not simply to myself, like we do at the time of new year’s resolutions, because we all know it’s way too easy to escape. Instead I invited someone to be the witness and the guarantor of my promise, be it a relative, a friend, or even better a stranger. My promise had escaped from my brain and was going to be rooted by the fact that someone else than me could judge whether or not I was going to keep it.
I ended up sending this short message to my friend every 2 days. Everything followed up: I woke up, and went taking a dip in the pool every couple of days with my friend. I became better at swimming.
Take engagements. Too often we allow ourselves not to do what we ought to achieve. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a magic formula. Sometimes you won’t show up, sometimes you will still find excuses. But if all the other times you are doing what you said you would, then it’s a great start. This is the best technique I could come up with to put myself to work whenever my brain was making up excuses to avoid doing things. If you’d rather lie to yourself than to others, then put others in the loop.
There are multiple ways to do this. You could, like I did, inform a friend that you will go train with him. Or, if none of your friends is training, you could go and sign up for swimming lessons. It’s important that you put someone in the loop — in this case the swimming teacher. I know too many people that take a gym membership for a year and only go twice or so. Why ? because you’re still very much by yourself. No one is waiting for you, no one is going to be disappointed if you don’t show up.
Also, I have noticed that proximity with the people you choose to take as your promise’s witness could be a soft spot. And your best friend probably should not be your first choice. You will presumably be more relaxed about keeping your engagement than with someone you are more formal with. And if you are really serious, think about taking your engagement publicly so that the number of people expecting you to keep your promise will pressure you enough.
Now that you are committed in several ways, It’s time to make room in your calendar. When you choose to allocate some time for your activity there is only one rule you should have in mind: Parkinsons’ law, or the fact that
work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
If I give you 2 weeks to write an article, you will write it in 2 weeks, if I give you 2 months, you will write it in 2 months. If you plan a 1h meeting, it *will* use up the whole hour, no less, even if it could have been done in 40min.
I won’t go into detailing all the possibilities and tools that can help you here, but you can start with basic techniques such as setting your default calendar slot to 40min instead of 1 hour , or defining objectives for the next 3 months instead of the year. You can also wake up 45 min earlier than usual and try to measure the time it takes you to reach your goals.
The main thing to remember is not to give yourself too much space to work with (within a reasonable limit). In short: never allow yourself to be won either by comfort or overwork.
Now, whatever engagement you take, don’t take too many until you’re sure you can hold them. First finish the race, then do a better time.
Trying new things is hard. I think everybody has a degree of fear when they do what they’ve never done before. But ask yourself these two questions:
What could possibly go bad ?
What could it bring to the table?
If the answer is respectively *nothing* and *something worth to you*, then there is NO reason NOT to get involved in it.
Remember, time is not fixed. It can be stretched (👋 Albert). So either you waste it being comfortable or you set a number of engagements for yourself in a limited time. It’s a virtuous circle, when you start something it will fuel your desire to continue and to start other projects. I suggest that you try, it’s a wonderful feeling to experience.
Go on, take engagements, set time constraints, measure your progress, and then reply to this post with your experience !