January 17, 2008

Have you heard about Parkinson's Law

Don't let that big name scare you off!

Parkinson's Law states that work expands to fill the time available for it.

What does this mean?

If you say, "I'm going to spend 2 hours every evening this week decluttering my inbox, files and folders" you will use all of that time to get the job done. And in some instances, a lot more :)

However, if you say, "I only have 2 hours to declutter my computer" you will get it done. You might run a bit over…especially if you haven't estimated properly but it will be nowhere near the 10 hours you'd previously set aside.

If you're on my mailing list, I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of my biggest goals this year is to work less.

So I decided to test old Parkinson :)

I already know that when I decide to focus, I generally take 20 minutes to write a blog post so I figured to write an article should take me 60 minutes because there's structure, making sure everything makes sense, etc, etc.

Before this working less goal, I'd say, "I'm writing the weekly newsletter on Monday night" and sure enough, it would take me about 2 - 3 hours to finish.

Well, I want to tell you that for the past 3 weeks, I have taken between 31 and 42 minutes to write my weekly tips article. Amazing!

Of course, the balance of the hour has been used to set it up nicely, check that all hyperlinks work properly and get it ready so I just have to press send later that week.

Coaching tip

  1. Think about a task you need to do in the next week
  2. Set a realistic amount of time to complete it
  3. Now set your timer and GO

Let me know how it works out for you - I would love to know!
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Anonymous said...

Sounds like it is working great for you. That's wonderful!

When I attempt the same though I come across distractions (such as a dear husband, lol), or other sidetracking obstacles.

My biggest challenge is keeping to a "timed" schedule. Any tips?

Marcia said...

I say go with your flow. You'll find certain tasks easier to do at certain times of the day.

Lyn, you just have to figure out your best time to do each sort of task.

Jen said...

My work doesn't expand, it just sits there until the last minute when I hurry up and do it...after I get off the computer. :)