The illusion of abundant time

In today’s reflections, which commenced just half an hour before the deadline of a recently submitted assignment, I found myself engulfed in thoughts about our rapport with time.

This was an assignment that was handed to us about a month ago. However, I managed to wait till the last couple of days before doing the assignment. Interestingly, I wasn’t the only person in those shoes. Many of my colleagues as well just finished the assignment.

As I sit here to ponder on my activities for the day, my attention is drawn to this ordeal and it insights me to jump online to read more about Parkison’s law.

Parkinson’s Law propounds, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

A lucid illustration from encapsulates this: “if you give yourself a week to finish something that would only take an hour to complete, then that one-hour task will grow in complexity, requiring more time and resources than were originally needed.”

My recent assignment ordeal mirrors this concept flawlessly. A task, essentially requiring a day’s work to create a PowerPoint, stretched across a month, not due to constant work but rather a persistent postponement, courtesy the illusion of abundant time. “There is more time…” That is how we all end up postponing most things.

Interestingly, a colleague of mine began and will conclude the same assignment today, underscoring the fact that indeed, it could be compacted into a single day’s effort. This sparks a thought within me: “Is there a methodology to allocate just the right quantum of time to each task, ensuring neither excess nor deficit?”

If that is possible then it implies that we will be able to spare a lot of time for other things. The first step to solving any problem at all is to identify what the problem is and figuring out why we have that problem in the first place.

So, this write-up serves as a gentle reminder to both myself and you, dear reader, that such a dilemma prevails. Armed with this awareness, it’s imperative that we commence steps to circumvent its recurrence.

A few strategies I propose (and intend to weave into my own life, with potential future reflections on their efficacy) include:

  • Appropriate Time Allocation: Ensure each task is accorded a time slot that mirrors its complexity and volume.
  • Prioritization and Reward: Establish a hierarchy of tasks complemented by a robust reward system to fuel motivation and timely completion.
  • Embedding Additional Activities: If a task is dwarfed by the allocated time, intersperse it with other meaningful activities. This creates a natural boundary, compelling you to confine the task to its rightful duration.

Take note that time isn’t as abundant as we sometimes think it is. It is just an illusion and we need to recognize that to make good use of the little time that we have.

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