Postponing Things to Increase Productivity - Deepstash

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The Napoleon technique

This is a productivity technique that involves delaying dealing with something when there is a good chance that it will resolve without your immediate input.

When Napoleon was a general in Italy, he directed Bourrienne to only open letters that came by extraordinary couriers, and to leave all the other letters unopened for three weeks. He observed that a large part of the correspondence had disposed of itself and no longer required an answer.

The Napoleon technique's main benefit is that it allows you to conserve resources such as time and energy. By putting off replying to someone, this technique can help teach a person to be more thoughtful when asking for your help

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Implementing the Napoleon technique

The technique is useful in routine tasks (minor, non-urgent matters that you can afford to postpone with little risk). For example, delaying emails for one day is enough to allow most minor issues to resolve themselves.

When you decide to implement the Napoleon technique consider both the positive and negative outcomes and the possibility of these outcomes.

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Common pitfalls of the Napoleon technique

  • The ostrich effect. It causes people to avoid situations they might perceive as negative. Don't use the Napoleon technique as an excuse to avoid seeing information you don't want to see even though you should.
  • Procrastination. When using the Napoleon technique, make sure you're doing it because you believe it will benefit you and not because you prefer to needlessly delay getting things done.
  • Parkinson's law states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. When using the Napoleon technique, don't postpone things so that you take longer to complete them than you usually would.

When using the Napoleon technique, set clear deadlines for yourself to reduce the likelihood of postponing things unnecessarily.

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