The 9 Laws of Productivity and How to Harness Them

The Laws of Productivity

AR: Chris @ WFH Systems Coach posted a great thread on the the Laws of Productivity earlier this week. I loved it so much that I reached out to see if I can republish on my site. This post is an adaptation of Chris’ work including both Chris’ original text and my own commentary/long-form adaptation.Here it is:

We’ve all done it…We have an exciting goal!

We sit down to crank out some work and use our untapped energy…

Only to realize 2 hours later that nothing important got done.

Maybe you look for hacks, apps, and Notion templates to fix your productivity?

But it never works!

And that is because you can’t cheat the universal laws of productivity.

If you want to get things done, you’ll need to understand how to harness the Laws of Productivity.

The 9 Laws of Productivity

1. Parkinson’s Law

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

Give yourself 4 hours to finish a task and you’ll take 4 hours to finish

Cut that down to 2 hours and you’ll finish in 2 hours

Solution: Put time restraints on your work.

2. Pareto’s Law (The 80/20 rule)

80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

Most of your results come from a small portion of your work.

Solution: Focus on the few tasks that bring you the biggest results.

3. Newton’s 1st Law of Motion

Objects in motion stay in motion. Objects at rest stay at rest.

Once you start something, you’re more likely to keep going

Solution: Do whatever you can to get started.

4. Illich’s Law (Law of Diminishing Returns)

After spending a certain amount of time working, productivity starts to drop significantly

Your body and mind need time to rest, and if you don’t, your productivity will suffer.

Solution: Work in sprints instead of a marathon.

5. Laborit’s Law (The Law of the Least Effort)

Organisms will always choose a course of action that appears to require the smallest amount of effort or expenditure of energy

It’s human nature to avoid discomfort and choose the easiest path.

Solution: Do the challenging (high-value) tasks first.

6. Swoboda-Fliess-Teltscher’s Law (Circadian Rhythms)

Humans have biological rhythms that influence their productivity

Working on the wrong thing at the wrong time is a silent killer of productivity.

Solution: Work around your energy levels.

7. Carlson’s Law

Interrupted work is less effective and takes more time than if completed continuously

It takes an average of 23 minutes to regain focus after an interruption.

Solution: Work without distractions or interruptions.

8. Hofstadter’s Law

It always takes longer than expected, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

Though completely meant to be a tongue-in-cheek principle, it always does seem to take longer than you expect to get anything done.

Solution: Build buffer time into your projects and deadlines.

9. Drucker’s Law

What gets measured gets managed

Much of your work day is wasted. But how would you even know if you aren’t tracking it?

Solution: Track your time down to the minute.

In Conclusion

Following these 9 Laws of Productivity will build the foundation for your success:

  1. Focus on getting started
  2. Avoid distractions
  3. Use time constraints
  4. Prioritize high ROI (80/20) activities
  5. Work in short sprints -> not long hours.
  6. Work around your energy levels -> don’t be afraid to take breaks!
  7. Do the challenging (high-value) tasks first
  8. Build in buffer time for projects
  9. Track your time -> down to the minute

Each is simple to apply in your life, and will 10x your productivity.

All you have to do is start!

AR: Here is the original article. As you can see Chris had 7 laws, and I added a two more. Give it like or a RT if you enjoyed this post!

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1 comment

  1. Parkinson’s Law has always been an interesting one to me. Putting a deadline on something really makes you realize how quickly it can be done.

    There’s another rule of government that I also like – ‘the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the growing needs of the expanding bureaucracy’

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