You'll Be More Productive If You Don't Schedule Every Second of Your Life
Unless you’re Elon Musk or Warren Buffett, there’s no reason for you to schedule your day down to the second. In fact, time micro-management might make you more unproductive.
We’ve all heard the productivity tip to manage one’s time, but there’s a downside to that if you become obsessive with your schedule—it’ll make you more frantic, more stressed, and less likely to get things done.
According to a study by Ohio State University business professor Selin Malkoc, knowing that you have an imminent appointment will make you feel more rushed, which in turn will make you unexpectedly slow down.
During an experiment, the research team found that when they told participants that they would begin the experiment in five minutes, most participants were unproductive and did nothing. Meanwhile, when the research team did not inform the participants of an impending event or discussion, the participants engaged in more productive actions, like checking emails.
"We know that when something is scarce, people consider it more valuable and are less willing to part with it. The same is true for time. If time feels limited, people are less likely to use it—even when it's in their best interest," explained Malkoc.
In short, the more you try to micro-manage your schedule, the busier you’ll feel—and the less productive you’ll become. If you feel rushed by your calendar, instead of doing something worth your time, you might just end up wasting time by worrying about it.
That’s not to say that the situation is black and white. Like all things, time management needs moderation too. If your career is output-based, Malkoc suggests scheduling meetings and events back-to-back, so workers will have the rest of the time free, unscheduled, and open for productivity.
So if you ever feel like you’re procrastinating, don’t feel too guilty about it. The other side of the spectrum can be just as harmful to your productivity.