Accomplish More In Less Time: Parkinson's Law

Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

"Time To Work Message" by Stuart Miles/

Picture this: You had an entire month to write the Requirements Specification Document. You procrastinated and ended up not writing it until the last week. Before you finally got round to doing it, you dreaded the task - it seemed so daunting. As soon as you finished the work, you asked yourself, “Why on earth did I think this was difficult and that it would take so long to complete?”

If you've experienced this before, then you know what Parkinson's Law is.

At the heart of time management is the concept of Parkinson’s Law. If you give yourself 1 week to finish a task that can be completed in 2 hours, the task will grow in complexity and become that much daunting to accomplish.

The fact that you have set aside two weeks to complete a task does not necessarily mean that it takes that much time or that it is complex in anyway. You can use Parkinson’s Law to reduce the time you spend on tasks considerably. Combining it with the 80/20 rule can produce a spectacular increase in productivity (See The 80-20 Rule: The Law of the Vital Few & The Trivial Many).

Parkinson’s Law is based on the fact that not everything you do (in the name of completing a task) is necessary to complete it. There are numerous time-fillers/busy work like emails that take up more time than they should. By focusing on the relevant and discarding the minutiae, you will be able to accomplish much more with the little time you have and avoid the paralysis that comes with psychologically blowing a task out of proportion.

The key takeaway is to make less time available so that you can get more work done quicker.