If you’ve learned about Parkinson’s Law, you know that limiting the time available for a task will get the task done faster. If you haven’t learned Parkinson’s Law, it states: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” What that means is if you have 5 hours to do a task, you’ll finish it in 5 hours. If you have 10 hours to do a task, you’ll finish it in 10 hours.

You can see the difference yourself. If a task normally takes you 30 minutes to finish, try setting a time limit to finish it in 20 minutes. Your brain will figure out a way to get it done in 20 minutes. And you’ll find yourself working more productively. But a key point is that you must take the time limit seriously. Otherwise you’ll take it easy and break the limit of time you set.

To take advantage of Parkinson’s Law to boost your productivity, set reasonably tighter time limits or deadlines to your tasks or projects.

Now you know what Parkinson’s Law is, what are some examples of where you can apply it?

1. Routine tasks. Let’s say you’re washing the dishes. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to finish washing them, try getting it done in 25 minutes instead. Finish washing the dishes within the 25-minute limit. Or if you’re doing grocery shopping, set a tighter limit of time to finish your grocery shopping.

2. Writing. If you’re writing a book and you’re writing 5 pages a day, set a time limit to finish writing those 5 pages. Let’s say it takes you 2 hours to write 5 pages. You might set a limit of time of 1.5 hours.

3. To-do lists. On your to-do list, set a reasonably tight time limit for each item. Write down the limit of time next to each item. Then try to finish each item within the time limit you set.