Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Have you ever wondered why other people can accomplish more than you given the same time? Have you ever experienced planning to complete a project early, then a few weeks after you caught yourself rushing to complete it for the deadline in the next few days.
The amazing part on those kind of “rush-project” is you still able to pull it through, it may not be the best output that you’ve done but given the short period of time, it is still amazing how you managed to complete it.
We often blame motivation or sometimes the tasks itself (not enough time, not enough people or resources or the likes), but there is more to it than just the lack of motivation or the specific task given.
This specific phenomena is called “Parkinson’s Law”, it is identified in The Personal MBA below:
“In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian, wrote a humorous essay in The Economist based on his experience in the British civil service. In that essay, Parkinson’s first sentence became his eponymous law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year.”
A task that can be done in 1 week will be done in 1 week. A project with a due of 1 year will be completed in 1 year. You might argue that some task like constructing a building can’t be done in 1 day but you would agree that Parkinson’s Law holds true as whenever we set a deadline it will always be done on the specific date (if not the exact date, most probably just a few days from the set deadline). Just imagine a big project without any deadline, I guess it makes a lot of a difference to have a set deadline rather than none at all.
What ever deadline you set yourself a task to be completed will be the most probable time that you will likely complete it. That’s how the Parkinson’s law works, this is also one of the reasons why projects without any deadline will take more time (or worst it won’t be done at all) than those which has.
We often procrastinate in completing certain projects since the deadline is far, we usually have this idea that “we still have time”. Parkinson’s Law works here in a way that we chat to ourselves that “we don’t have to do it now, we still have several weeks or so”. This is the ultimate killer of our productivity, believing that we have plenty of time which expands the duration of task before its completion.
WAYS TO USE PARKINSON’S LAW AT YOUR ADVANTAGE
1. Set the Deadline Earlier
It sounds so cliche but this is the most simple way to get more things done, you need to set your deadline earlier. But the challenging part here is how you can be more accountable on the set new deadline, being accountable would need your internal motivation (your “why” or “purpose”) or external factors (this often involves other people). Ensuring that you’ve established the appropriate accountability, allows you have a driving force that magnify the impact of the set new deadline.
Setting the deadline earlier and focusing on your “accountability”, ensures that you will complete something. Trust me on this.
2. Pomodoro Technique
For smaller tasks, which can be done within the day, I would often suggest using Pomodoro technique. This is defined by themuse below;
“The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.”
Pomodoro forces you into intense focus which helps you do task more efficiently and effectively. You don’t have to do the exact 25 minutes, you can tweak this for an hour or two whichever best suits your task. The idea is setting a timer for a task, which reinforces your focus and attention towards what is in front of you allows you to complete the task faster.
3. 5-Minute Rule
Whenever there is a specific task that can be done in less than 5 minutes, do it right away. We often push things aside that when it accumulates it eats our time that should be dealt with more meaningful task in the future. Completing all those trivial task at the time you saw it allows you to have more time in the future.
We would often see ourselves as the victim of these tasks and distractions that affect how we complete things (blaming the project or the tasks for why it was not completed), but the reality, it is always about managing ourselves.
Everything here is just tweaking your perspective and what’s I think the most important part of your productivity. Productivity is all about seeing things differently. Look at it differently and get things more than usual.