Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law – Where work expands to fill the time available – means that if you say you have the whole of the day to complete a ten minute task , then (psychologically speaking) the ten minute task expands to fill the whole day and in the process becomes more complex and daunting. It’s not to say that the task will literally take up the time with work but it is likely to fill it with a feeling, i.e stress or tension about getting the task done. By allocating the right amount of time to the task, it will reduce to its rightful state and therefore also reduces time that was taken up with other things related to the task,

Essentially most of us have become complacent with time, and this directly distorts the concept of how long most tasks actually take.

Examples that may have happened to you:

You’ve had a coursework to complete all term however you have left it until the night before it is due in

You booked your holiday a year ago but you decided to start working out a week before to achieve some type of beach body that you feel comfortable with.

I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and I can imagine that is the same with you.

Or you’ve seen it at your work place, there’s always seems to be one person that is forever busy doing things but doesn’t actually a lot done. That is because they are expanding the time and they probably could complete their tasks in half the day.

As the saying goes “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute”

How To Use Parkinson’s Law To Your Advantage.

My experience of managers or people in general is that they will never tell you to work less but more efficiently, therefore you will need to create artificial scenarios in order to create boundaries.

If you use a laptop, tablet etc, work without a charger. This will force you to get stuff done before it runs out of battery.

  • Work without your computer charger. Force yourself to get stuff done before your computer runs out of battery. As I write this blog now, I have 10% left.

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  • If you have tasks to do, complete them at their earliest possible moment. Essentially wake up early and try to schedule your tasks to be completed with a definitive time. I.e before 10 am. You can apply this to morning tasks such as take bins out, go for a work out etc. This is also beneficial as it links in with the theory that we all have a limited amount of will power each day.
  • An extreme example of this is to stop working all together after a certain time. I.e midday, if done correctly you will have all of the rest of the day doing the things you love without feeling stressed or anxious.
  • Find a family member or friend to hold you accountable with fines. You may have experienced this on sports teams, even amateur sports teams will most likely have a defined list of fines at the beginning of the season.
  • Create a S.M.A.R.T task (most people will have heard this a lot) but it actually works.
    If you set a target to work out more maybe be more specific and state you will work out for the next 6 weeks before your holiday and you will go to the gym between 6 and 8 (provides a small amount of buffer for conflicting lifestyles)  and each work out will be 1 hour long.
  • For those annoying pest tasks such as checking and responding to email, limit this to say between 9 – 9:30 or 4 – 4:30. Unless it’s dead urgent, leave it be and the don’t think about it until it the allocate time of the day to do it.

You can play around with the movements of your day however, the aim is to work more efficiently but at the same time still maintain the quality of work.

For some people this works and for others it doesn’t. You have to decide whether this is right for you or not. 

Finished with 5% spare 🙂

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