You know them, people who plan their tasks and work their plan. And you know others who seem to prefer being up against a last-minute deadline. With a natural preference for the latter, Kirsten Campbell offers a ‘cure’ for all that angst.
Your team probably has people who plan their tasks, make checklists and finish with time to spare – just in case. And you’ll probably have others who are the exact opposite. The highly respected psychometric tool the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is valuable for describing these differences. Don’t despair if you haven’t heard of MBTI here’s a quick and dirty.
If you make plans, schedule the actions needed, make a checklist that you enjoy ticking as actions are completed but you tend to get started late, MBTI will probably show you are a pressure prompted ‘J’.
If you prefer to plan loosely, look for different ways of completing tasks as you go, get distracted, lose any list that you might have made and complete the task at the last minute, MBTI will probably show you are a ‘P’.
For me, being a ‘P’ (someone who prefers to keep options open, flexible, fluid and delay final decisions until absolutely necessary) it can sometimes feel that ‘P’ stands for Procrastination.
Discovering Parkinson’s Law has made a real difference. This law, now deemed to be a scientific law, states that work expands, diminishes or even disappears depending on the time allowed for it.
The chore I dread more that any other – other than the annual tax return – is packing for a business trip or even a holiday. The idea of having to commit to clothing, accessories, gadgets and other resources for a finite period of time fills me with dread and mild anxiety.
Having discovered Parkinson’s Law, it has informed me to be more vigilant of how much time I allow for such tasks. If I give myself hours, that’s how long it will take whereas if I set a period of time I am happy to commit to, the well-oiled engine gets into action. When I need to pack I now know it can be done in approximately 45 mins and is best done on my own with no distractions. This leaves only minor contingency time which I will, of course, always fill with finishing packing minor non essential items right up until the moment I need to leave home.
So next time you have a task to do and time is maybe shorter than you’d like, ask yourself this question. “If I knew I could complete this in X hrs/ mins what are the steps I’d take?” and see how much can be achieved.
So, answers on a postcard please:-
Knowing the deadline for this article was today by close of business, did I write this
a) yesterday in the 2 hours free I had between clients?
b) 15 minutes ago?