Make More Time Using Parkinson's Law | The Brilliance Mine

Make More Time Using Parkinson’s Law

Most people in business (and almost everywhere) would love to have more time. For better or worse, we all have 24 hours a day. No more, no less. 

Yet, have you ever noticed that many tasks take as long as you have time available for them? There is a law that describes that phenomenon: Parkinson’s Law.

When we say a meeting will take an hour, it will take an hour (or more). When we think writing a research proposal will take four weeks, it will take four weeks. Yet, if a circumstance pushes us to create it in one week, we might get it done in that time frame.

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

Definition Published in The Economist

Tasks will fill your allotted time like a gas in a container. It fills up the whole container.

Why do we schedule almost always one-hour (or half-hour) meetings? It’s conditioning. It is what we usually do. It’s rare that someone says, “You know I think we can get that done in 12 minutes.”

You can use Parkinson’s Law as an invitation to think: “How much/little time do I truly need for this task?”

A point close to home: How long does my writing these Brilliance Nuggets take? The answer is however much time I allow for it. Some days I spent hours (because I dig deeper into a topic). Other days, I set a tighter time limit and make myself complete the nugget within that time frame.

The Key Takeaways

  • Consider challenging yourself (and your colleagues) with the question: “How much time do I really need for this task?”
  • Take your best guess.
  • Take care of the task as effectively as possible and see how long it took. That way, you have a more accurate time estimate next time. 

This process is like having a time creation machine. Now, that is cool!

I’m Curious

What is your experience with Parkinson’s Law?

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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