Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted to its completion.
We work on things with a given deadline, but if we have no deadline we will take up all sorts of time wasting it.
Example—Someone who has a leisure day with no deadlines can spend the whole day writing an easy college essay that is due the next day. This essay should take no more than one hour, but lets see what happens…
The person wakes up slow, makes coffee and eats, showers, and 1-2 hours is gone. They look at what they have to do for a few minutes then get distracted with social media and surfing the web for an hour. Decide to watch Netflix for an hour or two, and the day is almost evening..
..They open up their paper and work on it for about 5 minutes before getting distracted and going back to checking out social media. This cycle continues for hours until they finally begin and finish the paper around midnight. The paper would have only taken at most an hour to finish, but this person believed they did not need to finish it first thing in the morning so they took all day to do it. They did not have a specific deadline for the paper!
This is similar to a typical 9-5 workday where many people babble their days away with coworkers in pointless conversation. There have been studies done about how much people actually work throughout the day at their 9-5 jobs and the average does actual work-related tasks about half of the time.
Useless meetings, lunch and water breaks, surfing the web and other distracting things take them away from “what they should be doing.” And if their bosses allow it, I would do it too! If a boss gives an employee a week to do something, that person will take the full week to lazily do that task, when it could be done in a much shorter time if given a shorter deadline. Check cartoon below↓↓↓
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” I can’t say it enough.
By assigning the right amount go time to a task, we gain back more time and the task will reduce in complexity to its natural state.
Parkinson’s Law works because people give tasks longer than they really need, for different reasons, because they have an inflated idea of how long the task will take to complete. **You can’t realize how quickly some tasks can be completed until you test this principle.
Work smarter, not harder…when most people are working harder and not smarter.
A practical way for you to complete goals/tasks faster:
- Make a list of your tasks for the day, week, month, etc. and divide them up by the amount of time you think it will take to complete them. Then write down half of that time that you first gave yourself to complete each task! Make sure you view your deadlines just as crucial as you would if completing it for a boss.
- Stop checking your phone and email every 15 minutes and take 45-60 minutes of focused time to only work on your main task.
When you begin applying Parkinson’s Law to your life and your tasks, you will begin to be more productive than you’ve ever imagined.
Please share and comment, letting me know your thoughts and how Parkinson’s Law has helped you!