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Become a Time-Management Master with These 8 Time Laws





Hello Zen Organizer!


Today, I want to talk about eight time laws that will help you perceive and use your time more efficiently. Because if you use your time efficiently and productively, you'll be able to work smarter, better and less! And who doesn't want to have more time to do things they enjoy?


So let's dive into these laws so you can become a master at time management!


Parkinson's Law

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

It basically means that the more time you have to complete a task, the more time you will take to complete it, no matter how easy the task is.


Use this law to:

  • Reduce the time spent on tasks.

  • Diminish procrastination.

  • Increase your concentration.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Set deadlines for your tasks and goals

A good deadline is realistic in terms of the time needed to accomplish the task, but it shouldn't be too far in time to keep you a bit under pressure.


  • Use the Pomodoro Technique.

It's a technique that consists of uninterrupted 25-minute periods of work, followed by short 5-minute breaks. Then, after four such series, there is a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. It's also possible to do longer cycles, for example, 90 minutes followed by a 15-minute break.


This technique is very effective because it gives you a set period to focus on one task only. Plus, by setting a deadline to finish the task, you help your brain focus entirely on the task at hand. I explain the technique in detail in this article.

  • Use time-blocking.

This technique helps you set a specific time for your tasks and stick to it, so you don’t lose more time than needed on your tasks. It consists of assigning a block of time in your planner for all the tasks you have to do. I explain the technique in detail in this article.


Carlson's Law

"A task completed in one single stretch will be completed much faster than doing the same task in multiple attempts."

(Time Hack Hero, 2020)


In other terms: stop switching between tasks (also called cognitive switching, a topic on which I did an entire episode) and focus on one at a time.


Use this law to:

  • Lose less time on your tasks.

  • Work more efficiently.

  • Reduce attention residue.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Limit distractions.

Put your phone on airplane mode, only keep the relevant tabs open in your browser, turn off all the notifications on your phone and computer (especially email notifications), work in a closed room, use noise-cancelling earphones and/or listen to music, keep your workspace organized, ask your colleagues, flatmates, partner, kids, etc. not to disturb you, etc.


  • Use the Pomodoro Technique.

  • Use time-blocking.

Illich's Law (also called the Law of Diminishing Returns)

"Beyond a certain threshold, human efficiency decreases, even becoming negative."

(Galiana, 2019)


In short: you can't work for hours without taking a break. Indeed, the maximum amount of time our brain can focus on a single task is 90 minutes (for some people, it's less than that). So it's important to take regular breaks.


We already saw this law in episode #10, but it was focused more on task management.


Use this law to:

  • Increase your efficiency without exhausting yourself.

  • Reduce the inefficiencies and mistakes that happen when you're too tired.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Take regular breaks.

The Pomodoro Technique helps you remember to take breaks between your work sessions. As mentioned, you can do longer work sessions (up to 90 minutes).


Take real breaks: get up, go for a walk, stretch, eat a snack, drink water, meditate, etc. Basically, stay away from your computer and cellphone!


Laborit's Law (also known as the Law of the Least Effort)

"Humans prefer to carry out simple tasks that give immediate satisfaction to avoid stress or inconvenience."

(Pareto Analysis, 2021)


Basically: humans are lazy and don't like to suffer. 😂 Joking apart, we tend to procrastinate on the tasks that stress us, make us uncomfortable, or that we perceive as difficult. Instead, we tend to get the easy and simple tasks done and postpone the hard ones for as long as possible.


Use this law to:

  • Reduce procrastination.

  • Boost your motivation.

  • Reduce your mental load by getting the stressful and inconvenient tasks as soon as possible.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Eat the frog.

You've probably already heard about this concept which encourages us to get the most stressful/difficult task before any other. It'll help you boost your motivation to get all your other tasks done after.


Plan your days and schedule these tasks first.


  • Identify the cause of your procrastination.

If you procrastinate on a task, it's because there's a reason behind it. Identify it and act accordingly (listen to episode #5 to learn how to overcome procrastination).


Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 Law)

"80% of your results are produced by 20% of your actions."

In short, a few of your tasks will yield more results than all the other ones combined. For example, if you have ten items on your to-do list, two of these tasks will produce 80% of the results of your whole day. You should therefore identify these tasks and prioritize them over the other ones that bring less impact. Simply put: these should be the first tasks you tackle in your day!


I did an episode with Ewa Halliday in which we spoke about this law and how you can apply it if you want to learn more about it.


Use this law to:

  • Prioritize your to-do list efficiently.

  • Optimize your time and efforts.

  • Yield more results in less time.

  • Reduce perfectionism.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Use the Effort to Impact Matrix to identify the most impactful tasks.

This matrix allows you to determine which tasks are the most efficient in terms of effort and impact on your goals. Listen to episode #15 to discover how to use it and download the workbook "Get More Done by Doing Less" for a template (you can find it in my library).


Hofstadter’s Law

"It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law."

This one is pretty self-explanatory: we're really bad at estimating how long a task or project will take to be accomplished.


Use this law to:

  • Set realistic deadlines.

  • Plan for delays.

  • Reduce the stress caused by delays.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Do regular time audits.

I talked about it in episode #17: doing time audits will help you know how much time it really takes you to complete your tasks. This way, you'll be able to plan your days and your projects more accurately.


  • Always plan for more time than you think it'll take you.

If you think a task will take you one hour to complete, budget for at least an hour and a half or even two. The same goes for a project: if you think it'll take you a month to complete it, give yourself a month and a half. It's better to finish earlier than miss a deadline!


  • Schedule buffer periods.

I always recommend leaving 20% of your day free for any unexpected occurrences or delays. If they happen, you won't be short on time, and you won't accumulate delays. If you can't keep this much free time daily, try to keep half a day every week to catch up on any delays.


In short: don't plan your days minute by minute, and don't overbook your days. Otherwise, you'll most certainly have to review your whole organization all the time (see Murphy's Law).


Murphy's law

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

This is probably the most famous of these laws, and it's also pretty self-explanatory: s*** happens, so take it into account and be prepared for it!


Use this law to:

  • Anticipate and prepare for problems, obstacles, unexpected events.

  • Reduce stress caused by these problems.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Anticipate what could go wrong.

Think ahead about what problems could arise and plan for solutions. Always have a plan B, so you're not caught off guard.


  • Schedule buffer periods.

This way, you'll have more time to face the problems and solve them.


Swoboda-Fliess-Teltscher law

"There are biological rhythms in humans that directly influence their productivity."

(Saurel, 2019)


It's one of my favourite laws because I feel like it's the one that requires the least effort to put into place but yields incredible results! By knowing your own biological rhythms and identifying the moments in which you're most productive, you'll be able to accomplish more and better results with less resistance from your body.


Use this law to:

  • Find the moments in which you're most productive.

  • Increase your productivity without additional efforts and without exhausting yourself.

  • Work more efficiently.


How to use this law in practice:

  • Know your chronotype and use it to plan your days.

I did a whole episode on chronotypes and how to use them to boost your productivity. Listen to it to discover the best moments for you to accomplish different types of tasks. And don't forget to download the workbook with the summary of each of the chronotypes and an energy audit exercise to help you understand your energy levels better!


  • For women, the menstrual cycle also has an impact on their productivity.

You can download the workbook to help you track your menstrual cycle and better understand how it influences your productivity. You can find it in my library.


My coaching program is all about learning how to use your biological rhythms to boost your productivity. So don't hesitate to book a free discovery call if this is something you're interested to integrate into your organization system!




I hope these time laws and all these tips and strategies will help you manage your time more efficiently!


I wish you a zenly organized week,


Sarah



Access to Library


Sources


Galiana, D. (2019). 7 laws of time management for more efficiency at work. Retrieved from: https://www.wimi-teamwork.com/blog/7-laws-of-time-management-for-more-efficiency-at-work/


Pareto Analysis. (2021). What is Laborit's Law or the Law of the Least Effort? Retrieved from: https://www.paretoanalysis.tools/laborits-law-the-law-of-the-least-effort/


Saurel, S. (2019). Increase Your Productivity With the 11 Laws of Time. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/swlh/increase-your-productivity-with-the-11-laws-of-time-5f7e21e85b71


Time Hack Hero. (2020). 10 Laws That Affect Your Time Management. Retrieved from: https://timehackhero.com/laws-that-affect-time-management/