Categories | Getting Things Done | Inspiration | Psychology of GTD
You’ve probably heard David Allen say, “You can’t manage time. Time just is. You don’t mismanage five minutes and wind up with four.” This excerpt is from a LinkedIn article about a Harvard economist’s realization that the secret to productivity is not time, but focus.
A Harvard Economist’s Surprisingly Simple Productivity Secret
ASPEN, Colo. — It’s one of the most common complaints in the professional world: too little time.
Workers who log 60-plus hour weeks gripe that they don’t have enough room in their schedule to even tame their inboxes, much less think about big projects in some creative way.
But time isn’t the problem, says Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan. The ultimate barrier to success is a shortage of mental “bandwidth,” or the ability to focus on a task in the moment. A lack of time isn’t the issue; a lack of focus is.
“All those times that I thought I was using my time well — ‘Hey, I’ve got five minutes, let me check my email’ — I was actually using my bandwidth badly.”
Think back to Henry Ford. The automaker famously discovered in the early 1900s that, by increasing his employees’ schedules to 60 hours a week, he could squeeze more productivity out of them. But that burst of productivity lasted only about four weeks. Over time, the workers putting in 60 hours a week began producing less than their counterparts who worked 40 hours.
The people working overtime lacked “not just the ability to work hard, but the ability to actually think hard about the problem,” Mullainathan said.
The lesson for professionals: Having precious little time doesn’t matter. Spending quality time with it does.
Read the full article here.