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Monday, January 4, 2010

Develop Tunnel Vision

Is this any way to study?

Gather your books and papers, sit down at your desk, get up to sharpen your pencil, sit down again, imagine that having a glass of water would help, get distracted by the TV on the way back from the kitchen, sit down again, open a book, realize that it would help if you asked a friend what you were supposed to do, talk on the phone for 20 minutes, decide that you've studied long enough, and go to bed.

Sound familiar?

According to Parkinson's Law, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." I can vouch for that; these brief pieces can take me an hour to write, if I have little else to do. I just spent 20 minutes reading about the fascinating life of C. Northcote Parkinson, author of the above-stated law, simply because I could.

Later, I'll be complaining that there "just wasn't enough time to do all the things I wanted to do today."

By failing to stay on-task, we lose tremendous amounts of time. Am I happy to know about C. Northcote Parkinson? Yes. Will I feel pressed for time later? Probably.

With all the media available to us, it's a wonder we ever get anything done. (Thank you, Facebook, Twitter, etc., for improving my life--and shortening my day.) These days, I can't write anything without reference to the Internet. I pay for that in wasted time.

So, develop tunnel vision. Set time limits. "Git 'er done." Then choose how you want to spend all the time left over (even if that's surfing the net).

You'll be happier.

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