Steve Fenton

The Productivity Offset Law

Justin Etzine had a thought about Engineer’s Lunch Law, which he described in the following terms.

I have a theory. Call it: Engineer’s Lunch Law.

If you get lunch at 11 instead of noon, you can enjoy an hour of uninterrupted productivity from 12-1.

Justin Etzine via Twitter

Etzine’s Law

There is something about Etzine’s Law that resonates with many people. If you scroll through the replies, lots of people are shifting their work patterns to take advantage of hours that don’t get disrupted. Some are starting early, others are finishing late, and still more are moving their lunches.

Generalising the law

Bearing in mind all of these responses, I think we can generalise Etzine’s Law as as The Productivity Offset Law, which is:

Where people cannot be productive during normal business hours, they will offset their hours to create periods of contiguous focus time.

We don’t have to worry that “all the offsetting will eventually mean we all take lunch at 11, so end up back where were“. If everyone offsets to get focus time, they are unlikely to use that time to disrupt others. In a way we create swathes of space where all these people focussing are also leaving others alone to focus. However, one corollary to The Productivity Offset Law is likely to be The Offset Alignment Error, which occurs when people who need to disrupt you re-align their hours to yours to extend the immediacy of their need to interrupt you.

If you are making use of offsets to stay productive, it is worth having a strategy for how you will provide availability outside of your offset to service the people who depend on you.

Written by Steve Fenton on