The 5 Unspoken Laws of Parkinson's Law

Summary – How Parkinson’s Law helps you get things done.

I’ve learnt about Parkinson’s Law way back when I was a student. Back then it was just like any other things that came out from my lecturer’s mouth – Incomprehensible meaningless words. There’s nothing wrong with him or his lectures, it’s just me. I’ve learnt my lesson though.

Parkinson’s Law if used correctly, will ensure that any work that need to be done WILL be done. If the deadline is 1 hour, you will finish it in 65 minutes top. Interested?

Parkinson’s Law – The What

Parkinson’s Law says that – Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

It basically means that if you are supposed to write a 10 pages report and you set the deadline to be 2 days. It will most probably be finished in 2 days. According to Parkinson, the work will expand itself to adjust to the deadline you have set. You will start feeling the need for a more thorough research about the topic, maybe an interview or a good time spent googling. The simple 10 pages work has now expand itself to fill up the vacancy in the 2 days period.

Now that is an example of a really motivated and productive guy. Imagine what will happen to a person whose nickname is The Laziest Person On The Planet. He will start surfing the internet, watching television in the name of research, take few long nap to refresh his mind from God knows what. In the end, the 10 pages report will still only be finished after the 2 days deadline (even though based on the attitude, it will be very unlikely)

Exactly after 2 days, both of them (productive guy and lazy guy) will claim that the work done is very hard and it requires the full 2 days just to finish it.

Now this is where it become interesting. Try assigning the same work to another guy and set the deadline to be only 1 day. I can guarantee you that the work will still be finished by the deadline with almost no difference in quality (Of course we are comparing between two productive guys)

The Unspoken Law of Parkinson’s Law

1) Know the limits of low and high.
You cannot finish writing a 10 pages report in 10 minutes. That is stretching the law and you will only end up more frustrated, tense and most probably become another statistic of hypertension cases.

Experiment with the law. Let say you manage to finish the report in 2 days. Bravo! now let’s try 1.5 days. Do this until you know for certain what’s your low and high limit to Parkinson’s Law

2) Keep track.
This is actually covered in point number 1, but I think it is so important that it deserve a number too. Always keep track when you are doing the experiment. It will be a waste of time when you have done all the experiment to get your optimized deadline data but forget all about it in a year or two. Keep a book, and record everything until you can have the following conversation with your client

Client – Can you optimize the SEO of my blog for me?
You – Not a problem.
Client – When can I expect it to be finished?
You – 47 minutes.

3) Buy a timer
Now why do we need a timer when we are this motivated? The reason is because there is an unmotivated section of your mind which is equally strong, and usually it is so much smarter than your motivated section.

When you are doing your work, your unmotivated section of your mind will start to sabotage the process. Typical example is when you start to forget how much time you still have before the deadline. This is where the timer comes in. Set the sound of the timer to be as refreshingly painful as possible.

A no brainer but really, why we bother come up with a deadline if we have no idea where we are at anytime.

4) Answer to someone.
Find yourself a few friends to help you. Give them the authority to check on your progress. Now imagine that they are THE boss. I’m very sure that the work will be finished in no time. It always work for me (But with real boss)

Email them the details of your work. Maybe ask them to call you after every one hour and you must report how many pages have been done. Of course you will need to reimburse the call charges later.

The only problem with this is when the boss apprently is the laziest person in the group. You know what to do right? Fire your boss. This is the only time in your life you will be able to do this πŸ™‚

5) Know other forms of work expansion
You set the deadline for two days, and you finish it in one. By right you have proven Parkinson wrong and that the work is not expanding. However the work does expand but this time it will be in other forms such as anxiety (wondering what if the report is rejected), or no satisfaction (You feel like starting over) or tense (arghhh)

By knowing this fact, you can save yourself a lot of therapy session in the future.

And by knowing all the 5 unspoken laws, you are finally ready to experience the full benefit of Parkinson’s Law. In another word.. your work is guaranteed done.

– I wonder –
Care to share your techniques to get things done?

———— Personal Note —————
The previous 1 week has been a very hectic week for me. VIPs were visitting the mill and you know that number infinity people keep talking about. I have that exact number of works need to be done πŸ™‚

That was when I remembered this technique. Now the number of balance work I need to do is roughly infinity minus a few hundres.

Photo Credit – laffy4k

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This post has 7 comments.


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  1. 29 Oct 08 8:31 pm

    Hey cool stuff. I will surely follow this.

  2. banji
    30 Oct 08 7:49 pm

    Celina Gomes – Tell us how it goes kay

  3. 07 Nov 08 1:09 am

    me 2.. definitely!

  4. 08 Nov 08 10:05 pm

    @k@kPOKPEK – All the best πŸ™‚

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  7. 22 May 12 7:51 pm

    […] The 5 Unspoken Laws of Parkinson’s Law | LessonInLife.comOct 25, 2008 … Summary – How Parkinson’s Law helps you get things done. I’ve learnt about Parkinson’s Law way back when I was a student. Back then it was … […]

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