I would divide activities into four categories in term of their time constraints as follows:
- Short time-constrained
- Long time-constrained
- Loose or no time-constrained
Loose time-constrained activities are for things like hobbies. You don't set any deadline. They are just for fun. You don't mind even if they often cost you money. You enjoy doing your hobbies.
You love your hobbies. They often can turn into serious businesses. But in the beginning, they are not expected to make money. They are a labor of love. In a perfect world, all activities should be in this category.
Short and Long
Long and short time-constrained activities are for things you do in your workplace. They are usually the result of careful planning. The team in your organization decides a reasonable due date for each task.
In a corporate environment, so much time gets wasted. But it is okay. If you work for a corporate, you don't need to feel guilty. It always happens when there are a lot of available time and resources.
These activities have very tight time constraints. They must be completed within a couple of hours if not minutes. For example, when server is down, customers get mad. You will do whatever you can do to recover the service immediately. You will accomplish something within minutes for something that would probably take you hours in a normal situation.
Tight time-constrained activities are very intense. You concentrate all your energy to finish the work as soon as possible. You are in laser focus mode. Nothing can distract you even if someone screams at your ear.
Because the time constraints are very tight, you will try to find the fastest way to finish the job. And you will choose to work on important things and ignore the rest. You will do only the bare essentials. That is why very often this is the best of your work.
Do you remember this quote?
Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Emergency type of activities is usually triggered by an external factor. Something you don't plan. Normally you don't want them. The intensity can break you down if you work on it for a long duration.
We want the effectiveness and efficiency from the emergency type of activities but not the stress. A reasonable intensity is good. It helps us to focus. The deliberate emergency is something that tries to take advantage of tight time-constrained activities.
Trying to launch a product or startup in 24 hours like hackathon is a deliberate emergency. But they are occasional activities. If you do it every day, sure you will die.
I would prefer hackathon on a mini scale. How should we call it? Minithon? Marathon? :) Instead of trying to launch a new product in 24 hours, for example, launch a new feature or significant improvement within 3 hours every day.
- Set every day's goal that is significant enough. It is must shippable such as releasing a new version to production and publishing a blog post.
- Set a rigid time constraint to work on your project per day. It must be a reasonably short time. Don't set 8 hours. It won't work. Set like 2 or maximum 3 hours.
- Let say you commit for two hours. Just work on your project for two hours every day.
- After two hours, stop. Forget your project and do other things. Stick to the allotted time. If you try to extend, it defeats the point of trying to simulate the activities during an emergency.
Deliberate emergency has less intensity because you know that there is no real penalty if you can't meet the goal. But if you can stick to the time allotted, you will be surprised at how effective it is.