If your goal is to achieve financial freedom, and time freedom, then you must understand and adhere to Parkinson’s Law, it’s a good idea nevertheless.
It’s a simple concept and I made this post so you don’t have to get overwhelmed, and you don’t need to go out and buy yourself a $1,000 dollar book that explains it (unless you want to of course), that’s how much paperback and hardcover books on Parkinson’s Law cost these days. You can still see what you can find on Amazon though. Although this post will do just fine, it’s all you need.
Articulated by the British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson, it says: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
Ever noticed that when you have too much time to complete a task, you procrastinate until the very last minute? But then you immediately go from lazy-mode to productivity superhero to hit a deadline, without sacrificing the quality of your work at all?
The reality is that you always had the ability to knock the task out in that amount of time, but you ended up dragging it out to fill the space you had available to complete it.
Parkinson realized that, despite having less and less paperwork in the British Colonial Office, the number of employees increased each year by more than 5%. As a result of his study, a book titled Parkinson’s Law (of which the famous above sentence is extracted) was published in 1957.
If you’ve ever assigned a task to someone, you know that this law holds true almost always. If you give someone a month to finish a project, it’ll be done in a month, although it could be done in two weeks.
This also happens to you on the tasks you have to do every day… you adjust yourself to the timelines and deadlines you’ve set. How to solve it? At the time of planning your work, set much tighter deadlines. Estimate optimistically and you’ll succeed. Limiting your time will force you to focus on what’s important and get straight to the point.
In other words, let’s say you set yourself to do something by the end of the month, you picked a date, and you said “I’ll be done with this on this day”. Even though inside, you truly know that you can finish this task in a couple to a few days. But you wait until the last minute to do it. Parkinson’s Law simply states, well guess what? If you finish this task sooner, you’ll have that much more time to do something else. Henceforth accomplish a lot more, or have more time to relax to the deadline you’ve set for yourself. That is how wealthy people move ahead in life, and also create time leverage for themselves. As life may have it, right at the deadline of your task/work something can happen; an accident, a power outage, you may fall, a relative gets sick, etc. It just makes sense to accomplish your task/work prior to the deadline you have given yourself or if it has been given to you by someone else.
It’s simple to accomplish what’s in front of you:
- Identify the scope of each task
- Estimate how much time it will take to complete it (realistically)
By applying Parkinson’s Law, you can remove the time fillers that slow you down, set time constraints, and limit the choices you have to make. In doing so, you can reserve your energy for staying focused, productive, and smarter about how you work and the tools you work with.
If you’ve made a list of people to call/contact this week, why not call/contact them today, or set a timeframe for tomorrow? Now you finish prior to your deadline, and if you’d like, you can create another list and accomplish that as well.
For habitual procrastinators who tend to put off looming tasks to a later time and exert themselves at the “last minute” prior to an imminent deadline, one other corollary to Parkinson’s Law may be helpful: “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do”.
That’s it, you’re good to go. Come back and read this post again to refresh your memory anytime. Accomplish that what is in front of you.