The Parkinson's Law

William Meller - The Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Work complicates filling available time, but if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.

There was a fiction worker named Sam who was given a task to complete. 

He was given a reasonable amount of time to do the job, but he kept putting it off. 

He thought he had plenty of time to complete the task, so he made excuses and procrastinated. 

However, before he knew it, the deadline was quickly approaching. Suddenly, Sam had to work long hours to finish the task on time. 

When the task was finally completed, Sam realized that the task took the same amount of time whether he had started it early or not. 

This is The Parkinson's Law in action. No matter how much time he was given for the task, it would always take the same amount of time to complete it. 

Sam learned an important lesson that day - procrastination can have serious consequences, and it is important to always take on tasks with a sense of urgency.

If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will.

If something must be done next week, it’ll be done next week. If something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow.

The Parkinson's Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". 

In other words, no matter how much time you are given to complete a task, the task will take up the same amount of time. 

This could be due to procrastination or distractions which prevent you from working efficiently. 

The Parkinson's Law can be applied to many different aspects of life, including productivity, efficiency, and organization. 

So, if you want to be more productive and efficient, it is important to be mindful of this law and take steps to avoid procrastination.

The term was first coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for “The Economist” in 1955.

In the article, he shares the story of a woman whose only task in a day is to send a postcard – a task that would take a busy person approximately three minutes. But the woman spends an hour finding the card, another half hour looking for her glasses, 90 minutes writing the card, and 20 minutes deciding whether to take an umbrella along on her walk to the mailbox. And her day was filled.

This article by the way is a great one! It is one of these articles that you need to read, and I am sure that you will create some connections from the examples there with some situations in your life.

"... Seven officials are now doing what just one did before. For these seven make so much work for each other that all are fully occupied and actually working harder than ever..."

Read the original article at The Economist here.

William Meller - The Parkinson's Law
The Devolutions Blog

It is used as a criticism of the inefficiencies of bureaucracies in large organizations. Parkinson’s law refers to the tendency among people at work to finish their tasks only just in time for the deadline even though they are capable of completing them earlier.

Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, once said:

"... If you split your day into ten-minute increments, and you try to waste as few of those ten minute increments as possible, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done..."

We plan based on how much time we have, and when the deadline approaches, we start to make choices and tradeoffs to do what must be done to complete the task by the deadline.

Let me also bring another example, now coming from Atlassian blog. You can also find some good tips and tricks on how to overcome Parkinson's Law in this article.

"... You and your team have two weeks to complete a relatively simple bug fix. Realistically, it should only take a few hours. But because you know you have more than enough time at your disposal, the project grows in scope. While you’re looking into that bug, you decide to check into a few related issues, as well. That prompts questions about what’s causing those issues in the first place. While those diversions may ultimately prove to be useful, they don’t get you any closer to achieving your object of handling the bug fix. Ultimately, the thing that should’ve really been a simple undertaking becomes something that actually requires the two weeks to complete..."

It happens because people give tasks longer than they really need, sometimes because they want some buffer, but usually because they have an inflated idea of how long the task takes to complete. People don’t become fully aware of how quickly some tasks can be completed until they test this principle.

Everyone has cases that do not bring results and take a long time. For example, checking your mail, reading social media, etc.

To overcome The Parkinson's Law and increase productivity and efficiency, it is essential to recognize procrastination for what it is and take steps to avoid it. 

Setting smaller, more manageable goals and deadlines can help you break tasks down into chunks and make them more manageable. 

Additionally, avoiding distractions and creating a positive workspace can help you focus and get things done. 

Finally, celebrating successes and rewarding yourself for completing tasks can help you stay motivated. 

By understanding and using Parkinson’s Law correctly, you can get more done in less time and learn how much time each of your tasks really requires.

In conclusion, The Parkinson's Law is an important economic principle that can be used to increase productivity and efficiency. 

By understanding this law and taking steps to avoid procrastination, you can ensure that tasks are completed in the allotted time and that deadlines are not missed. 

Following The Parkinson's Law can help you make the most of the time you are given and optimize your workflow.

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