How To Work Smarter With Parkinson’s Law by@williammeller

How To Work Smarter With Parkinson’s Law

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William Meller

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

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 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 which 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, 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 situation 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.


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It is used as a criticism against the inefficiencies of bureaucracies in large organisations. 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 it 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, or some sites with jokes.

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.

Thank you for reading another article here!

I hope you enjoyed!

Originally published here.

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