Our way of working and our productivity are ruled by laws too. Knowing them will help you to understand how you work and to face your day-to-day activity in a different way. When you know what’s wrong, you also know how to fix it and how to overcome the obstacles standing in the way between you and the so desired good results.

The 9 Laws of Productivity are just a matter of time

You can consider yourself ‘productive’ when you are able to do more in less time. That’s why these 9 productivity laws are deeply connected to time:

PARETO’S LAW. According to this law, 80% of results arise from the 20% of work. We spend most of the day working on tasks that don’t get us closer to our goals.

PARKINSON’S LAW. It says that work expands until it fills all the time available to have it done. That is, the more time you have to finish a task, the more time you’ll take to finish it. If you want to learn more, you can read this post.

NEWTON’S LAW. According to Newton’s first law, every object at rest will stay at rest, and every object in motion will remain in motion. That is, when you are procrastinating, you are at rest, so it will be difficult for you to move. And the same happens when you are working; it is hard to stop because you feel satisfied when you are able to accomplish your tasks.

MURPHY’S LAW. Beyond the famous ‘anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’, when applied to productivity, this law states that any job we start will take longer than expected due to some accident or unexpected situation. When planning your tasks, you must always include an extra time margin… just in case.

ILLICH’S LAW. According to this law, after a certain time, personal productivity tends to decrease, even reaching negative values. We have a limited work capacity and we can’t be completely focused for long. Take it into account when planning your breaks.

CARLSON’S LAW. If you focus on a task without any break or interruption, it will take you less time to finish it. Or put another way, once you start doing something you must finish it (or at least you shouldn’t start until you have everything you need to accomplish it). You will avoid interruptions and will be more focused.

FRAISSE’S LAW. This law says that time is a subjective variable depending on our own interest in the activity performed. For this reason, when you’re working on something that you like, time flies whereas in other cases it seems that you will never reach the end of the day.

HOFSTADTER’S LAW. This law is also known as ‘the planning fallacy’. Doing something will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account the Hofstadter law itself. That is, when you plan, you are cheating yourself, so take it into account when setting deadlines.

LABORIT PRINCIPLE. We are not objective when choosing tasks. We’ve got a natural tendency towards those that require less effort from us. For this reason, and as you can’t always do what you want, the best thing is to combine tasks that you love with others that you don’t like so much, and always take into account your energy levels throughout the day.

All these productivity laws have a direct influence on your way of working, whether considered individually or combined. It is important for you to know them so that you won’t forget about them when planning your day-to-day at work.

Translation by Susana Castro.

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