Have you been trying to find out what the Parkinson’s Law means?
Before I explain…
Do you have trouble completing the important tasks on your to-do list?
Do you often find yourself spending too much time creating the list in the first place?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you might need more help with your time management beyond the scope of this blog post. Please get in touch if you’d like help.
So, what is the ‘Parkinson’s Law’?
It basically means whatever project you’re working on, it will expand to fill the time you have given to it.
Therefore, if you think it will take a month to write a series of 10 emails for a new promotion – it WILL take you 10 days.
However, if you think, “I really need to get these ten email finished before tomorrow night” – then you WILL get them finished.
Because you’ll “do whatever it takes” to get the job done.
In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian, wrote an essay in The Economist based on his experience in the British civil service.
In that essay, Parkinson’s first sentence became the root of this law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year.
If something must be done next week, it’ll be done next week. If something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow.
We plan based on how much time we think 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.
Don’t think the Parkinson’s Law means you have to set unreasonable deadlines.
All projects take time.
You can’t simply build a new business in a day, or create a new clothing brand in a week.
The more complex the project, the more time it typically takes.
What would it look like if you finished the project on a very aggressive timescale?
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.”
For small tasks, use what I call Ingvar’s Rule.
Think that each task will take no more than ten minutes to complete, then begin.
This includes meetings and phone calls.
For some reason, the default time for a lot of meetings tends to be an hour.
Some managers just love meetings.
That’s why I say all meetings should be done standing up.
If your company takes this stance, it will improve productivity big time.
For a start, your company will stop having useless meetings. Instead using email to pass on information.
Then, if a meeting is called, the nuts and bolts get worked out much faster, when you’re not sat down in a comfy chair in the meeting room, drinking coffee.
Final thoughts about the Parkinson’s Law?
Ultimately, Parkinson’s law is all about being mindful of how you use your time.
This will help you get more from it.
But better time management doesn’t have to be complex.
As a starting point, simply ask yourself how many of the following apply to you:
· I know what I want to achieve each day
· I prioritize the work that has the biggest chance of improving my company over “supposed” urgent work
· I understand how long each task should take
· I create the boundaries and conditions to produce my most productive work
· I know who and where I get distracted and I make massive efforts to defend my time from the “Time Vampires”.
· I review what I end up doing each day versus what I planned that morning
However you interpret Parkinson’s ideas, understand that increasing productivity will always require you to be more considerate in how you use, and misuse your time.
Knowing where your time goes will make the difference if you end up building that 7 or 8 figure business…
Or you end up wasting most of your life building a business that has few rewards more than that simple ‘9 to 5’ job you gave up in search of the entrepreneurial lifestyle.