How To Use Parkinsons Law To Do The Impossible
While its not specifically articulated in Parkinsons official theory, you can also use the inverse of this rule to increase the quality and magnitude of your work.
If you expand the scope of your ideas, and the magnitude of your goals, you can often create a gap between what youre currently capable of and what you want to do. When you create that gap, you figure out how to grow into that gap. You suddenly figure out how to fill the gap.
A great example of this is when we first partnered with PoP. I thought we might be able to raise 10k. If I aimed for that, we probably would have raised exactly 10k, or maybe a little more. Instead, I decided to stretch, and we aimed for $25,000. We ended up raising a little over $26,000. Thats what Im talking about when I mention the edges of impossible.
Ive referred to this in the past as shoot first, aim later or jump and then figure it out on the way down. Pick a big goal, commit to it, and youll probably find that youre able to figure out a way to achieve it.
Communicating: Make It Effortless
Unless youre in telemarketing , people rarely work in silos. A business relies on different teams or employees interacting with each other to successfully work towards unified goals. When you work in a team environment, having easy ways to exchange information is essential to maintaining a productive work life.
Other than email, there are plenty of ways to quickly connectwhether its through instant messaging, text, or voice and video call. The trick is to have a communications tool that will allow you to do all of these things seamlessly, without having to waste time switching between apps
Using the RingCentral app mentioned above, you can transition quickly between these different styles of messaging all from one tool. Toggling between messaging, video conferencing, phone calls, and texting is effortless. Forget about picking up the phone while on your computer or going into your browser to log in to your video conferencing software. You can do it all from one place.
Talk about a simplified workflow:
Working smarter isnt always about finding a whole new way to work. It can be as straightforward as doing what you already do, but simplifying the process. In the example above, its about saving time and not losing focus by being able to reach out to teammates in several ways all in the same app.
Parkinsons Law & Time Management
In terms of time management, Parkinsons Law challenges the notion that working harder means working better. What Parkinson suggests is that a project will take as long as the time you set for it. If you give a one-hour project a one-hour timeline, you will complete it in that time. If you give a one hour project a six-month timeline, you will overcomplicate it and add unnecessary stress to the task at hand.
The overarching principle behind Parkinsons Law time management theory is that by assigning accurate deadlines to tasks, you can maintain the simplicity of the task and reclaim your time.
At the end of the day, Parkinson is trying to tell us that sometimes, we just give projects too much time to complete. As a project manager, its important to note that working longer doesnt translate to working better.
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Exceptions To Being Realistic
Now there are some exceptions to setting realistic timelines. Those are:
1. This is a new task that you have never seen before so you are unsure how long it will take. In that case youd want to set a preliminary timeline and then adjust course as you begin to better understand the scope of the project.
2. You set a shortened, overcompensated timeline. Its possible that by recognizing Parkinsons law you then overcompensate by setting too short of a deadline. You dont want that either so do your best to set a deadline that is realistic. It may take some trial and error.
3. You arent the one setting the timelines. If youre an employee for a large company thats set in their ways, dont fret. If you get a deadline to complete a task in 3 weeks but you know it will only take you 1, dont waste your time procrastinating or filling it with fluff.
Get it done in 1 week and then fill your other 2 working towards your ideal life doing a side project, working on your goals, reading personal development books. Dont let them waste your time. Get it done on your schedule and then get to work building out your better life.
Keep in mind though, unless you are experiencing 1 of the 3 exceptions above, you should and need to set realistic timelines for yourself.
What Is Parkinsons Second Law
Parkinsons First Law states that Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Parkinsons Second Law: Expenditures or money paid out rises to meet income. Parkinsons Fourth Law: The number of people in any working group tends to increase irrespective of the amount of work to be completed.
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Make A Time Limit Rule
Make a rule for you to get things done before .
For example, say there is one task that you have to do every day, and you can’t really be productive until you get it done.
Maybe this is checking your voicemails on your work phone, or reviewing a traffic sheet for your company. Whatever it may be, make a rule for you that this will be done within 30 minutes of arriving to work.
You can also make a rule that you will be done with your work for the day by 5:30 pm. This way, you will have a clear cut-off between when your professional life is over for the day and your personal life begins.
Squash Your Productivity Killers
Because youre in a race to complete your tasks, you have no time to get distracted by emails and social posts. While entirely eliminating these things is nearly impossible, there are ways to control them using the wisdom of Parkinsons Law. Create a deadline for these items as well. Five minutes for email per day. Ten minutes for social posts. Voila!
How To Account For Parkinsons Law
To account for Parkinsons law, before scheduling a task or getting started on it, you should first try to determine how much time it should take to complete it. When doing this, you should focus not on how much time is available for completing the task, but rather on how much time it should realistically take in order to complete it, without compromising performance.
Then, you should do your best to complete the task within that timeframe, or, if youre accounting for Parkinsons law while scheduling tasks for others, encourage them to complete their work within that timeframe.
To achieve this, you can set artificial time constraints , beyond the original ones that initially applied to the task. For example, if a certain task could technically be completed by the end of next month, but you know that its possible to get it done within a few days, you can set a deadline for yourself to finish the task within that timeframe.
In general, the deadlines that you set should be based on the following factors:
- The amount of that should be dedicated to the task. For example, this can involve deciding to dedicate only 1 hour to a task, even though you can afford to dedicate 10 hours to it.
- The point in time by which this task should be completed. For example, this can involve deciding to finish a certain task by the end of the week, even though youre allowed to take a month to do it.
Mastering Your Time With Parkinsons Law
Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of lazinesslazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
What you work on matters far more than how hard you work.
At the same time, how long you work on something depends almost entirely on the amount of time you have to do it.
That is Parkinsons Law. And if you are going to get rich working moderately hard, you need to know about it.
The Effect Of Parkinsons Law
Before understanding the law you might have wasted a lot of time on unnecessary aspects like polishing up, editing a lot and performing extensive cross-checks. All these occur because of inherent fears that we harbour towards a given task that we are accountable for and in the grand scheme of things might affect our lives. Its the same thing that happens with the 80/20 principle. You keep on grinding thinking that MORE WORK = MORE RESULTS.
Looking at things from a more objective point of view, youll realize that half of what you did might not even be necessary. You could have saved a lot of time just minimizing the things that arent that important and work on something that you enjoy. You could set aside some time to do your tasks, building habit, advance in your personal life, work on your passion
Other Parkinson Law Examples
The law of delay. It means that the most reliable and proven form of failure is procrastination and delay.
Law of a Thousand. Any organization, the staff of which reaches more than a thousand people, becomes completely self-sufficient and ceases to need contacts with the outside world.
The law of the telephone. How effective a telephone conversation is, is inversely proportional to how much time was spent on it.
The law of scientific research. All successful research leads to increased funding, which makes it impossible to continue research.
The law of information . The amount of data increases, so that, as a result, there is no free space on the media, and the increase in memory and the media themselves is a prerequisite for the emergence of new technologies that require even more memory and media.
Mrs. Parkinson law. Cyril Parkinsons wife also drew up one law worth mentioning. It says that the warmth that is created thanks to household chores tends to grow and overwhelm a person. And this warmth can only be transferred from him to a more cold-blooded person.
Analyzing Parkinsons First Law, it turns out that if you give yourself a week for a task that can be completed in two hours, then it will adjust to expectations and become difficult to fill the allotted week.
Exit: set exactly the time in which you can complete the task. Not more.
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Questions About ‘parkinson’s Law’
- Are there any areas of your life that are open-ended, without any sort of limitation?
- How can you use Parkinson’s Law to set a productive artificial limitation to increase your efficiency?
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Cyril Northcote Parkinson, naval historian and management theorist
You Don’t Need A Reward To Join The Productive Club Do You
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.
Work Faster Not Harder
The guiding principle tells us that we can get anything done in whatever amount of time we set for it. Time management best practices tell us to build buffers into our timelines to allow for unforeseen setbacks and to ensure were not breaking promises to stakeholders and thats still key.
But what Parkinsons Law reminds us is that you can combine reasonable time and work estimates with a little optimism, and aim for getting deadlines just right. You might think overestimating timelines gives you the leeway you need, but it could end up wasting resources without adding quality to your deliverables.
Socializing: More Effective Than You Think
Though it might seem counterintuitive that socializing could boost productivity, in a study done by McKinsey, productivity did in fact improve by 2025% in organizations where employees felt connected.
Positive team relationships are built when people enjoy the company of those they work with and can connect with each other on a personal level. These personal connections in turn make for more meaningful work.
With a growing population of remote workers, it can be challenging for teams to organically get to know coworkers who theyve never met in person. Scheduling remote team activities can help facilitate more opportunities for remote workers to connect in an off the record, more personal way.
For instance, Kahoots is a simple online tool for remote workers to get to know each other better with short conversation starters and quizzes. Plus, you can even customize the look and feel to fit your brand:
Socialization is also a great way to help break up the day and inject freshness between routine tasks. Shorts breaks throughout the day can inspire creativity just by allowing your brain a second to relax so that when you return, youre able to approach the task with a refreshed mindset.
Expords Is On Youtube With Amazing Videos
Lemme grab your attention by asking some question- Do you waste a lot of time? Do you wish to get more done in less time? Do you want to live a disciplined life? If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, Parkinsons law can help you. In this article, I would share with you- what is Parkinsons law, examples of Parkinsons law, and how to use this law in our day-to-day life. So, lets begin from the beginning-
How To Use Parkinsons Law To Become More Productive
We all want to get more done in less time.
Youve researched methods on how to become more efficient and effective, and youve tried all the shortcuts in the book.
But have you taken advantage of Parkinsons law?
Parkinsons law is a rule which states work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you have a shorter time frame to finish a task, you will complete it faster.To take advantage of this, set shorter deadlines for your tasks, and you will progress through them faster.
Theres no special system you need to benefit from Parkinsons law, you just need to understand the psychological trick.
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How Do You Overcome Parkinsons Law
Understanding Parkinsons Law is only half the battle. What you really want to know is how to prevent that eleventh-hour crunch to get work shipped.
However, combating Parkinsons Law isnt something that will easily happen when youre smack dab in the middle of a project.
The best route is to start early by planning a successful project kickoff where you can set expectations about how your team will approach and conquer those larger projects that are prone to scope creep and procrastination. Heres what you should cover during that meeting.
Who Introduced Parkinsons Law
Cyril Northcote Parkinson was a British naval historian who first introduced Parkinsons Law in a satirical essay written for The Economist in 1955. He then went on to write a book titled, Parkinsons Law: The Pursuit of Progress. His story in the essay involves a woman whose sole task for the day is to send a postcard.
Because she has the entire day to complete this task, she spends an hour finding the card, half an hour finding her glasses, 90 minutes writing the card, and so forth until she fills her day. His story is meant to explain how work expands to fill the time allotted. While Parkinsons example may sound extreme, weve all experienced this at a smaller scale.
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What Is Parkinsons Law
Parkinsons Law is the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. The term was first coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for The Economist in 1955. 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 or not to take an umbrella along on her walk to the mailbox and on and on until her day is filled. Read his original article here.
Lets look at an updated example. 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 youre looking into that bug, you decide to check into a few related issues, as well. That prompts questions about whats causing those issues in the first place. While those diversions may ultimately prove to be useful, they dont get you any closer to achieving your object of handling the bug fix.
Ultimately, the thing that shouldve really been a simple undertaking becomes something that actually requires the two weeks to complete. Thats Parkinsons Law in action.
Tracking: Hunt Down Your Time
In between meetings, emails, speaking to clients, preparing documents, filing reports its hard to get an accurate pulse on where we spend our time. Yet in order to better manage time, you need to be able to see where your attention is going throughout the day.
Even if you have an idea of how youre allocating your hours between need-to-dos and nice-to-dos, you might be surprised by how much time you actually spend debating the latest episode of Tiger King with your coworkers.
Timely is an online tool that sits in the background and automatically tracks how much time youre spending towards each online task. It helps pinpoint distractions and identify workflow challenges to guide better decision making on how you should organize your work.
For instance, if creating invoices requires you to switch between three separate platforms just to get the information you needthis creates an opportunity to explore a new tool that can consolidate a lot of the disjointed functionality into just one platform:
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