Are you really running out of time?

A common feeling among creative workers is the lack of time. Yet, most people will run out of energy before they run out of time. A single task that takes you 5 minutes (asking a Business Development Officer for Intellectual Property rights) can drain you out for a week. Another task, like lecturing for 3 hours, can energize you for the rest of the week. Highly productive people do not have more time, but they may have more energy, more method and better feedback on their progress.

I believe that three problems lead us to conclude we lack time:

  • You are spending too much time on boring tasks. To be productive, you need to work on projects you love. For this reason, creative people should pick their projects.
  • You fail to manage your projects. Without help, you can only keep track of our 7 projects or tasks at any one time. If you want to do more, a method is needed. Myself, I use GTD. But some method is needed to scale up to a large number of projects. Without method, you will drift to unessential tasks and then blame the lack of time to explain why important tasks went unattended.
  • You do not measure your progress. You need to get feedback about the quality and quantity of your work. Myself, I put my work under subversion and get daily emails of what files changed. It is a crude by effective measure of my work. Also, tracking your project carefully, at the task level, helps. Finally, having coworkers who react to your work is a blessing. Without measure of your progress, you may realize too late that your projects did not progress and then blame the lack of time.

Daniel Lemire, "Are you really running out of time?," in Daniel Lemire's blog, November 30, 2008.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “Are you really running out of time?”

  1. I absolutely agree, it is much better to have more energy to do things, than to have some additional time, which you can easily waste for nothing.
    A link to this post deserves a place in your sidebar, I would say…

  2. I would like to add my own trick. Use mind mapping software a lot! They are a great way to collect information, to take notes, and to organize your thoughts.

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