I had 20 minutes to write this blog.
20 minutes to come up with an idea, draft a post, proof read it and hit publish.
My first thought was to leave it till tomorrow. To leave it until I have a couple of hours to draft, redraft and perfect the piece before publishing.
But there’s no such as thing as perfect, is there? And that story that I need more time? That’s a story that sounds a lot like procrastination.
So instead, I borrowed from The Beautiful Constraint and asked: how can I use this time constraint to my advantage? To test what I can get done in 20 minutes. To force me to stop overthinking and just go.
Because you can get more done in 20 minutes than 120 minutes.
I mean, just look at some of my older blogs. Some of them I agonised over for hours. Are they markedly better than this one? No way. In fact, I’d say a lot of them are worse. Are they more polished? Maybe. But is that 10% gain in polish really worth 6 times the effort? Unlikely.
It turns there’s a name for this phenomenon.
It’s called Parkinson’s law and it states that:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
It’s a law that explains why one student can pull an all-nighter and punch out a 10,000-word essay in just 8 hours while their friend who started the assignment 2 full weeks ago, agonising over it for days hands theirs in at the same time.
Sure, it’s nice to have time to think, to plan, to discuss in a meeting (and then again in a follow-up meeting), to write 3 drafts, grab a coffee and to check your email intermittently in between doing so.
But sometimes it’s worth deliberately constraining yourself and asking: what if I only had 20 minutes to complete this?