How to improve productivity with the Parkinsonā€™s Law

How to improve productivity with the Parkinsonā€™s Law

The Parkinsonā€™s Act is a principle that can help you make the most of your time. To do this, in addition to knowing this principle, you need to know how to apply its teachings in your day to day. This is what we will try to achieve in this article.

Think that this law can not only help you improve your efficiency at an individual level, but that its principles are also applicable to teams.

What is the Parkinsonā€™s Law?

The Parkinsonā€™s Law was born out of an investigation by Cyril Northcore Parkinson into a personā€™s daily duties in the British Civil Service. The law that he proposed in his study says the following: “the work expands to fill the time available for its realization”.

Letā€™s take an example that helps us understand it better. It is 9 in the morning and we are given a task that we must deliver at the end of the day, at 6 in the afternoon. We dedicate all day to make it, and when the deadline arrives, we deliver it. However, it is likely that if we had been given a deadline of 2 in the afternoon, we would have finished it anyway, obtaining quite similar results.

This is where the Parkinsonā€™s Law applies: it took us 9 hours to complete the task because it was the time we had available, not because it was really necessary.

The author of the Parkinsonā€™s Act suggested that this is because, unwittingly, the tasks seem to us more or less complex depending on the time limit we assign them.

How to use the Parkinsonā€™s Law to our advantage?

1) Working against the clock

Try reducing your deadline for completing tasks. For example, if you normally take an hour to finish a project, try to set a 50-minute deadline.

Then, try to finish what you have to do against the clock. It wonā€™t seem easy at first, but youā€™ll be surprised to see what youā€™re capable of if you manage a little extra pressure. Your mind evades distractions and is more focused to finish sooner.

2) Avoid falling into perfectionism

It is not always easy to end a task. Thereā€™s always something we can do better, right?

Many times we take twice as long to finish a task because we are constantly tweaking small details to make it perfect. You must forget that; it never will be. All youā€™ll get is wasting time on things that add very little value.

If you suffer from this problem, try to define precisely the purpose of your assignment before starting it. Once you fulfill your purpose, youā€™ll know itā€™s time to end it.

3) Create incentives to finish soon

One of the reasons why the Parkinsonā€™s Law is almost always enforced in many organizations is because people rarely have incentives to finish their tasks early.

The effort is often not rewarded, since it is established a culture in which the simple presence in the office prevails over the desire to do things well and in a short time.

Create incentives that are worth the time. Leave the office early, have more time to relax, or dedicate your free time to things that make you enjoy. This will give you good reasons to be fully focused on work, and be as productive as possible.

The Parkinsonā€™s Law, along with the 80/20 rule, has been a real revolution for many people. Both can help us greatly to increase our personal productivity.

If you want to know more about the 80/20 rule you can not miss our article The 80/20 rule in the world of human resources.

And you: What do you do to be more productive in your day to day? Had you applied the Parkinsonā€™s Law to your work routine?

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