Keeping eyes open, Parkinson’s Law may be a useful tool for both organizing big tasks and managing your own time. Managing time is must be our priority to achieve goals and tremendous success in any part of life. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to get something done on and in time. THE FOUR QUADRANT EISENHOWER MATRIX FOR TIME MANAGEMENT is also a proven time management technique that can help you to stay focused and productive
A task will take precisely the amount of time it has been allotted, not more or less, according to Parkinson’s Law. Because of this, even though they are capable of completing a task far more quickly than the time allotted, employees often fluff their work to meet the timeline. There are many proven benefits of Time Management.
Have the word “spuddle” has it ever come to your mind? It’s a 17th-century word that implies performing inefficiently or to be exceedingly active while doing little.
Read Also: 7 KEY BENEFITS OF THE TIME MANAGEMENT
If you’ve been spuddling unexpectedly, Parkinson’s Law could be affecting you. If it applies to you, don’t be alarmed; we have a solution.
In this post, we’ll discuss Parkinson’s Law, why it causes time wastage and techniques for avoiding it.
What is PARKINSON’S LAW?
According to Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands to occupy the time period available for its completion.” In other words, individuals change their speed depending on how much work they have to do and how much time they have to do it.
The renowned British historian and novelist Cyril Northcote Parkinson is honored in the name of this law. In 1955, he published an article for The Economist with the aforementioned concept as its first sentence. Later, he explored the idea in a book titled Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress.
Parkinson wrote the article with the intention of criticizing the British Civil Service, where he worked, for its excessive bureaucracy. He observed that although everyone was busy all day, hardly much really got done.
Numerous research has since demonstrated Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law of Triviality also suggests that individuals inside organizations frequently devote excessive time and attention to trifles. The time spent on any item on the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the amount [of money] involved, according to Parkinson.
Project management and Parkinson’s Law
Simply said, if you allow yourself two weeks to do a task, it will take you two weeks to complete it; if you give yourself five days to complete the assignment, you’ll be able to finish it in five days. Poor deadlines can lead to procrastination and spending excessive time on unimportant tasks.
A task’s projected completion time may be inflated for the following reasons:
- Too large of a buffer because, in accordance with Murphy’s Law, “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong,”
- An erroneous estimation of the task’s completion time.
Instead of asking ourselves, “How much time do I need to complete the task?,” we frequently question, “How much time do I have to finish the task?” It should not come as a surprise that there are rarely rewards for finishing early at work because you are simply “rewarded” with additional work. A lot of workers don’t think finishing a task earlier is worth the effort because the extra labor seldom results in greater compensation.
However, in situations when speed and efficiency are important considerations, we should instead ask ourselves, “How much time should I realistically take, without sacrificing the performance?”
How may Parkinson’s Law be used as an example?
Parkinson included the example of an elderly woman who spends the entire day sending a postcard to her niece in his work. “An hour will be spent in locating the postcard, another in looking for spectacles, a half-hour in looking up the address, an hour and a half in composition, and twenty minutes in determining whether or not to carry an umbrella while walking to the pillar-box in the next street,” he wrote. In other words, she spent the entire day on an activity that a busy person might do in a few minutes.
A student who procrastinates and then crams everything in two days and two nights before the exam is another typical example.
Student Syndrome is a condition when people put off completing a task until the very last minute. The concept is thought to have been coined by Eliyahu M. Goldratt in his book “Critical Chain,” where he made a comparison between students who put off studying until the last minute and workers who do the same with project duties because they assume they have plenty of time to complete everything.
Parkinson’s Law has a corollary known as the Stock-Stanford Corollary that claims, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.”
Read Also: THE FOUR QUADRANT EISENHOWER MATRIX FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
Here are some good examples of Parkinson’s Law in the Profession.
In addition to the aforementioned Student Syndrome, there are several instances of Parkinson’s Law at the workplace.
One of these was when the software company 37signals, now known as Basecamp, implemented Summer Hours, in which employees work 8 hours per day, four days per week, throughout the summer. They began testing it in 2007, and they continue to do so 14 years later, proving that it is effective. Yet how?
To put it briefly, taking more time off makes you more productive, according to its co-founder Jason Fried, who offered his perspective to the New York Times.
He added: “Only a small percentage of individuals work even 8 hours every week. If you manage to squeeze in a few productive hours between all the meetings, interruptions, online browsing, workplace politics, and personal matters that make up the average workday, you’re lucky.
Reduced formal working hours aid in trimming the fat from the average workweek. (…) They [workers] don’t waste their time on things that are just unimportant. Less time means that you generally make better use of it.
Parkinson’s Law may also be seen in meetings.
Sometimes individuals blather on for longer than authorized, with no apparent pattern or aim.
Finally, you depart without having a clear understanding of what was spoken during the previous two hours.
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, said in his interview with Harvard Business Review:
“Frightened, nervous managers use thick, convoluted planning books and busy slides filled with everything they’ve known since childhood. Real leaders don’t need clutter. People must have the self-confidence to be clear, precise, to be sure that every person in their organization — highest to lowest — understands what the business is trying to achieve.”
But, he concludes that simplicity is the hardest to achieve. People often think that using big and complicated words will make them appear smarter. Instead, it just wastes time — communication in the workplace should always be clear and concise.
Read Also: 16 TECHNIQUES TO FOCUS AND BE PRODUCTIVE – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE
How to Deal with Parkinson’s Law?
There are a few strategies for getting around Parkinson’s Law and increasing productivity.
Identify the worth and significance of the endeavor.
Everyone, including you, has to be aware of the worth and significance of the project if you want them to be effective. It’s challenging to find the motivation to accomplish a task that has no meaning.
So always try to see the larger picture. Describe what will happen next as well as how the present job contributes to achieving a larger objective. People may put off doing something because they are unsure of what they should do once the current task is complete. As a result, the project has to have a timeline and a plan.
1. Set Deadlines
Set a few additional deadlines for each milestone in addition to the project deadline.
For instance, I set deadlines for every stage of writing my articles. In this manner, I can ensure that I do everything without stress and on schedule. I established deadlines for finishing the first, second, and editing draughts.
2. Start Time Blocking
Set aside specific times to work each day to maintain focus. They can last up to 90 minutes, but they can also last as little as 25 minutes (as in the Pomodoro technique). Since studies indicate that the brain can only focus for 90 minutes before requiring a 15-minute break, I wouldn’t recommend working any longer than that.
Taking pauses will keep your mind active, clear-headed, and productive.
3. Monitor your time.
Track your time to determine how long each job truly takes. There are several simple time monitoring applications available that will allow you to examine how you spend your time, including how much of it is spent working. And how much time do you spend putting off or doing unimportant things?
Doing a weekly review of your job is an excellent idea. At the conclusion of each week, evaluate how you used your time over the previous five days. Is there anything you could do better? Is there anything you ought to focus on more or less? Weekly reviews were an important factor in my increased productivity.
Read Also: 6 TIPS FOR MASTERING TIME MANAGEMENT SKILL
4. Give Timeboxing and Time Mapping a try.
Timeboxing is the practice of setting aside predetermined blocks of time for tasks. It’s a time management method that helps you set up certain time slots for different tasks and establishes stringent time limits for those that might otherwise consume too much of your time.
A related method called time mapping takes things a step further by giving you an overview of your time by allocating each unit of time to an activity. Choosing your top priorities for every aspect of your life is another part of it.
Clearly, state what constitutes the completion of the work.
Establish precise guidelines for what constitutes effective work completion. This is beneficial for both perfectionists, who are constantly looking for ways to enhance or add, and beginners, who can be self-conscious about their abilities.
To prevent time lost because of misconceptions, clearly define everyone’s roles and duties in a project.
5. Set a Clear Aim for Yourself.
When our objectives are out of sight, we are more likely to become distracted by trivial things. Write down critical tasks you need to complete in a prominent location (like a post-it note on your computer) to avoid that and to help yourself remember what has to be prioritized.
6. Make Your Objectives Clear.
Inform those around you of your objectives. When you tell others what you want to do, they will hold you accountable. This will make you feel under pressure to complete your goals as quickly as possible. As a result, you’ll delay less and spend less time on unimportant tasks.
7. Push yourself.
Try to do a job 10% more quickly without sacrificing quality. If you succeed, try doing it 15% quicker the following time, then 20% faster, and so on. For instance, if you typically accomplish a task in an hour, try finishing it in 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. Once you’ve done that, try finishing the assignment in 45 minutes, and continue gradually cutting the time down until you discover the perfect balance between finishing a task quickly and thoroughly.
Read Also: POMODORO TECHNIQUE FOR TIME MANAGEMENT – BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS EXPLAINED
Every workplace has an unwelcome but regular visitor: Parkinson’s Law. You are well on your way to being more effective once you start to become aware of it. Fortunately, there are various strategies to prevent it, such as adding more deadlines and measuring and scrutinizing your time.
Read Also: 5 CONSEQUENCES OF DISTRACTION AND ITS CAUSES