When I decided to write about the Parkinson’s Law I dedicated a full day for it.
Did I write this whole article in a day? Yes!
Could I have written this article in a shorter period? Yes!
Apparently, that is what Parkinson’s Law is about, the law states that “work occupies the time you allocate for it”. So, if you dedicate a full day to writing a blog post, that’s the time it will take, likewise you allocate 3 years to learning how to swim, it will take exactly that.
I have seen the Parkinson’s law at play severally in my life but I didn’t know there was a name for it. Now that I can put a word to it, I’m conscious of the time I allocate to task.
The concept of time is relative and an interesting construct, because time runs fast when we’re having fun but not when we’re doing something that requires mental stimulation. Particularly tasks we hate.
In my case, writing a blog post sometimes seem like a chore and anytime I write, it appears time stands still. On the other hand, when I’m watching YouTube Videos, time passes by quickly.
Therefore, I find myself most at times underestimating the time I need for pleasure for example watching Youtube videos and overestimating the time I need for work related stuff.
Recognising the impact of Parkinson’s Law has helped me in diverse ways
- Internalized Deadline
One of the reasons we procrastinate when it comes to our personal development and wellbeing is that there are no deadlines to do them. Plans to lose weight, start a business, create a product, get your dating life together, usually have no time limit or deadline to achieving these things.
We just set the goal without any timeline. When it comes to supervised work such as work commitments, our procrastination is controlled because we are being monitored by our bosses and supervisors.
Likewise, as kids, we could procrastinate to a certain extent but not fully because our parents will be breathing down our necks to deliver on our task, be it doing our homework or washing dishes, hence the room for procrastination becomes limited.
Parkinson’s Law benefits in this regard because when we set goals, we need to attach a reasonable timeline to achieving the goal. By this strategy, we wire our internal clock and mentally create a deadline within which to work. The effectiveness of this strategy is akin to the Zeigarnik Effect.
- Conscious Time Allocation
With the insights of Parkinson’s Law on our side, we’re trained to become better managers of our time and to be conscious of the time we allocate towards our task.
Now that I know I can write a thousand words in 2 hours given the right commitment and dedication, I will spend some time dedicating a realistic stipulated time in my writing. In a fast-paced world where technology and social media has taken deep roots and control our psyche’s attention spans are diminishing which makes doing the hard work even harder.
Time allocation is imperative for productive work hence we need properly estimate and schedule the right time for our productive duties.
- Recognise my Laziness
Parkinson’s law has helped me recognize my own laziness and unwillingness to do things. Scheduling more time for tasks that will ordinarily take a shorter time makes me question my laziness and look critically on why I’m avoiding the task.
Maybe I’m not prepared or I’m just not in the mood for that kind of task. Or there is some associated anxiety as a result of executing that task. Which means I have to sit down and ask myself the deep questions. Do I really want what I’m doing or I’m just doing it for doing it sake?
Asking myself the deeper questions and recognising this has been a game changer for my productivity and sanity.
Parkinson’s Law is real and has a deep effect on whatever we do. The next time we find ourselves allocating task we must critically access the time we’re allocating and why we’re allocation such time. This knowledge will come in handy in knowing the work we should do but we’re avoiding. Parkinson’s Law is a starting point to have a deeper conversation about productivity and work.
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