Parkinson Owns Us
I think Parkinson's Law may be the most underrated idea in professional life. I can't help but feel that if it weren't named the way it was, like Murphy's Law, or The Peter Principle, somehow it would be known. Followed. Respected. Hallowed. FEARED. Dreaded.
Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. That's Parkinson's Law. Almost everyone I know follows it, me included, to our own detriment.
What does it mean, in lay terms? Simple: if you have an hour to get something done, it will take, oh, about an hour. Often a little less, sometimes a bit more. If you have something else to get done, but you only have 15 minutes, it's going to take you, oh, maybe 15 minutes.
Even if the two tasks are the exact same task.
Think about that. There's an implication there that our concept of a task is essentially inextricable from the time we have to do it. David Allen alludes to this obliquely by having a "Someday" category in his powerful Getting Things Done guidance.
Admit it. You're like me, and on the last work day before you started a vacation, you got a bunch of stuff done because you had to, and you only had a limited amount of time to do it.
Because, on that day, Parkinson did NOT rule you. You ruled yourself. You proved Horstman's Corollary To Parkinson's Law:
Work contracts to fit into the time we GIVE it.
I told myself I had to write this post in 15 minutes. I did. There's more to say, but I'm living with the deadline. 90% of you won't take action anyway even if I write for days.
Take less time. Let quality suffer. [I bet it won't, appreciably.] Get more done.
Rule yourself, lest ye be ruled.