Parkinson’s law states that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
It basically means that when we have more than enough time to complete a task, we almost always end up making the work ‘stretch’.
E.g. if we need to prepare a presentation and have a month to do it, we will somehow make the task more complex, procrastinate, work at a slower pace than usual, have more ‘let me first have a cup of coffee’ breaks, watch 3 seasons of an obscure crime series on Netflix and finally complete the task on the penultimate evening.
In fact a corollary of the law states, rather amusingly, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.”
Productive people get over Parkinson’s Law by using a simple trick viz. Timeboxing.
For instance, if you’re supposed to do your taxes, you allocate (say) 1 hour time and add it to your calendar on (say) Monday, 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
Here’s my method:
- Add task to ToDo ( I use TickTick)
- Add a timebox (max duration, say 15 mins, 30 mins, 1 hour etc)
- Set a reminder (say 10AM, next Monday)
You can always snooze the reminder (and move the timebox to another date/time) in case you get engaged with something unforeseen at 10AM on Monday. You may also add a Pomodoro timer to step 2, if it helps.
The more you practise this method, the more proficient you will become at timeboxing just the perfect amount of time for any particular activity/task.
Happy productivity! 🚀
Photo by Mitchell Hollander