Have you found yourself procrastinating or getting easily distracted at work? Do tasks that should only take a few minutes seem to stretch past their completion time? Or have you miraculously completed hours worth of work in one hour? What’s the deal?!?!
Enter Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands or contracts to fill time allotted. For example, if you schedule two hours to write a memo, you will likely spend the entire two hours working lightly with frequent breaks to check emails or daydream. But, if you schedule thirty minutes to write a memo, you will likely spend the entirety of that time actually writing the memo. A great real-life example of this is to think about the Friday before vacation. For most people, this will rank among your most productive days ever as you hustle to wrap up items you don’t want the work to creep into your vacation time.
To take advantage of Parkinson’s Law, think about how long tasks could realistically take when making your weekly plans. Providing accurate time slots for jobs will not only force you to work efficiently, but it will free up time in your day. If you are unsure how long tasks take, use this upcoming week to record tasks without any breaks or distractions. Once you have a good idea how long projects should take, make sure you plan both a start time and an end time. Consider assigning the bare minimum amount of time to tasks to see what you can accomplish. What you might find is that you are forced to focus, resulting in flow states and efficient work!
Pro Tip: Be sure to add some buffer time on the front and back of tasks to make sure you have room for any Q1 items that may arise.