Adding some pressure will help you get things done. Well, not too much pressure.
I just asked a friend to stop over and help me test a new rugged laptop.
I have quite the plan to test it out. Water spills, drop tests — fun stuff. Strangely, my little “test” isn’t actually that pressing. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to do these tests today. Over the years, I’ve learned a trick that helps me get more done during the day. It’s not that complicated, but I’m surprised how many people haven’t tried this.
The basic idea is to create fake time pressures. Call the electrician who said he will stop by in a few days and see if he can come out at 3PM. Then, make sure you finish that business report on time. Or, pick up the phone and call an “all hands” meeting with your employees and set it for 5PM. Now you have some pressure to get everything done. You have created an environment with just a touch of tension.
In movies, there’s an interesting concept called “light consequences” used by filmmakers who want to create some minor conflicts. Pixar’s Inside Out is a perfect example. I laughed when I realized one of the “pressures” of suburban life is having to go to a new school or when the moving van company shows up late. The reason this works is that none of these issues are really that consequential-no one will end up begging on the street if the van is little late. It generates the illusion of tension without actually creating any tension.
What if you do that in your job? What if some light pressure makes you work harder? Some conflict-the kind that motivates you to complete tasks-is fine. Obviously, adding too much fake pressure won’t help. It will create too much stress and you’ll end up not being as productive. There’s a tipping point to pressure. Some “light consequences” will give you focus and drive; you’ll dig deeper for some extra motivation. Too much drama in your work day and you will spin your wheels like someone poured sand in your cubicle.
Here’s why this all works, based on my experience.
Freedom to work as I please is a concept I’ve embraced since 2001 when I left the corporate world. Each day is an open canvas. I can finish up everything in my day by noon and go play disc golf or spend time with my family. I can cram everything into a few hours and leave room for phone calls. Yet, this very freedom is also a curse. There are days when I have so much openness that I almost freeze up. I browse tech news sites way too often or research too much. Or, I test out new apps and products too long.
I believe this freedom to work as you please is spreading like wildfire, and that’s a good thing. It’s finally a legit way to work. Companies are removing some of the layers of management (or all of them) and expecting workers to act like adults and manage their own schedules. More and more people are working from home. Yet, as we embrace the concept of work-as-you-want independence, we also need tools to help us stay on task.
This is one method. It might not change your world. However, it could help you get through some email a bit faster.