A common complaint I get from students is also a very common fallacy: "I did't have enough time", as if some of us had longer days than others. A more correct phrasing would be "I couldn’t find the time" or "I had other priorities". I myself am no stranger to such poor excuses, and I have uttered them more than I care to admit. Personal efficiency is tricky because sometimes we tend to see time as something external that is beyond our control, and therefore by its very nature unmanageable. But it is manageable. How do you get things done? What is your method?
Some of us run on cortisol. We thrive on stress because it focuses us, and therefore we end up having a very dysfunctional relationship to work. We worry and obsess about it. Waiting until the very last minute to feel the adrenaline, the rush increases as the deadline approaches, and suddenly whatever didn’t flow before flows abundantly then. Is there a better way? Or are we eternally condemned to a cycle of procrastination and desperation, putting off first and then rushing to meet deadlines?
The tortoise and the hare fable by Aesop offers some insights, and the moral seems to be that humility and hard work beats the sheer power of being high: high on cortisol, high on adrenaline, high on talent, or just high on confidence. But you ask me, it’s not overconfidence what makes you a procrastinator, it would seem that pretty much the opposite is true. Humility and ward work work, but that’s not very useful if you think about it, and they don’t really offer a way out.
A better way is to move away from self-examination and into detailed methods like the Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo that I reference in this post; Getting Things Done GTD, the magnificently nuanced methodology by David Allen; or the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that Stephen Covey turned into an incredibly successful business venture. Which is your method? Lists? Post-its? Alarms? Reminders? Come and tell us!