How to get more done by allowing less time to get things done

Forget trying to find more time to get things done. Get more done by forcing less time to do those things.

“I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” — Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

Mr. Bezos’ insight is as effective at being productive with our day as it is to building a business on a tight budget. By constraining our time we can actually get more done. I know that seems counterintuitive. But, consider when/how…

…you manage to get the entire paper written the night before it is due.

…you make it to the post office just before closing time to send your tax return on April 15th, despite just starting to work on taxes hours prior.

…you are able to clean your entire residence in under an hour when your parents call to say they are on the way to visit.

…you seemingly break the rules of time and space as you wake up late for work or school yet shower, shave, get dressed, grab breakfast and make it out the door in only fifteen minutes.

It is human nature to expand the duration of tasks, especially undesirable ones, to fill the available time. The more time we allow, the more time the task takes. Therefore, to get the task done faster and sooner, allow it less time.

When we do not have the luxury of more time, we still manage to get done what we must. When our time is constrained, we avoid needlessly thinking about the options and process of the task. We simply execute, and we do so more instinctively.

Tired of meetings? Try inviting fewer people and schedule for forty minutes instead of sixty. Removing the chairs and having standing meetings can also help constrain the duration and keep attendees off their laptops to better participate.

Have a lot of paperwork to get through? Break it into stacks and set a typical time limit to get through the first stack. Next, try reducing the time 10–20% for the second stack. Do the same for the third stack and challenge yourself to beat your previous time.

Spend too much time writing emails? Pretend your composing a tweet or text message instead. Keep it short and super simple.

Constrain to obtain the results you desire.