How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Increase Your Productivity

Back in school, I remember learning about Parkinson’s Law. It was taught in one of my classes. Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I remember reading that with a yawn. At the time, it didn’t mean much to me, nor did I fully understand it. But as I got older, I realized that Parkinson’s Law is a really important concept.

Maybe you’ve learned about Parkinson’s Law too. Parkinson’s Law means that if you have, say, 10 hours to complete a task, then it’ll take you 10 hours to complete it. If you have 2 hours to complete the task, then you’ll take 2 hours to complete it.

You’ve probably seen evidence of it in your own life. Whenever you were faced with a tight deadline, you instantly worked harder and more productively. Failing to meet the deadline was not an option. Somehow, you miraculously got the work done and met the “impossible” deadline.

On the other hand, when you had all the time in the world to complete a task, it was easy to slack off. After all, the work didn’t need to be done so soon. So you probably worked much less productively.

When you have a tight time limit or deadline, it forces your brain to figure out a way to get it done on time.

When I was 16, my teacher gave the class a programming project: Make the game Monopoly. We were given 2 months to complete it. I completely underestimated how long it would take. 2 months seemed like a long time, so I took my time working on the project.

When the due date came near, there was still a lot of work left to do. It seemed almost impossible to get it done on time. The night before the due date, I frantically programmed and worked feverishly to get it done. I stayed up all night working at it and didn’t sleep, working until the morning. Somehow, I miraculously got it done and handed it in on time (and enjoyed my “A” on the project).

If I didn’t have such a tight deadline, it would have taken me much longer to complete the project. I wouldn’t have worked as productively.

But productivity is important for your business. The higher your productivity, the more you get done in less time. And the more results and income you generate for your business.

So how do you apply Parkinson’s Law to boost your productivity? Whenever you have a task, give yourself a time limit to complete it. Make the time limit short, but realistic at the same time. You must take the time limit seriously, just like client deadlines, otherwise it’s too easy to break the time limit and be unproductive. Do whatever it takes to get the task done within the time limit.

If the task is large and will take more than a day to complete, you can give yourself a deadline instead of a time limit. Make the deadline realistically short, just like for time limits. You could also try breaking the task down into smaller tasks and use time limits for the smaller tasks.

So if you want to increase your productivity, give Parkinson’s Law a try.