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Parkinson’s Law And Productivity

Parkinson’s Law is very simple, and it has been around for a very long time. In a nutshell, it says that the longer you spend on a task, the more complicated it will become. At it’s basic level, it can best be explained by looking at simple tasks your boss sets you, for example, If you spend two hours doing a task that should take one hour, it will grow in complexity.

This does not mean that simple and mundane tasks will become incredibly complex if you delay them for five minutes. What it does mean is that simple tasks will simply become more problematic.

That ‘problematic’ aspect comes about when tasks become a pain. You’ve procrastinated, and you’ve been distracted, and suddenly the most simple and effortless task in the world takes over your morning, or your day.

If you have too much time on a task, you will procrastinate, you’ll make it harder or more demanding than it really is.

One example might come when you’re tidying a room. You give yourself an hour to do it. After a few minutes, you take a break. Gradually, that time frame expands to fill two hours. And it becomes difficult. It seems much messier than it is, and your mind starts to view it as ‘a tough job’. Before long, you’ve given up your afternoon to it and it hasn’t been done.

However, if you give yourself an hour to do it,and ensure that you stop after an hour (with an optional break in the middle), the task suddenly becomes simple, easy to manage. Sure, it may be tiring, but you’ll get a lot done if you just do it.

Parkinson’s Law states that ‘work expands to fill the time available for it’s completion’.

The lesson here? If you have a task to do, from cleaning your car to creating a presentation, give yourself the shortest time possible to get it done, and stick to it. Chances are if you work hard for that amount of time, you’ll finish it. Add any more time on through procrastination or distractions, and the job will only ever become more arduous and complex.

Productivity-wise, don’t forget that the more time you spend on a task, the harder it will be to complete.

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