Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
– C. Northcote Parkinson
In other words, we humans will take as much time as we can to complete a task. Not just that, but the longer we take, the more complex the task becomes.
Once you become aware of Parkinson’s Law, you start to see it everywhere.
If we have three weeks to write a report for work, we’ll take three weeks (and probably make it more complex than it needs to be). If we have three hours, we’ll sit down and crank it out.
If we have all day to practice, we’ll often put if off until after dinner. When we only have the hour after breakfast, we get right to it.
I have to confess, this blog has been Parkinson’s Law writ large for me. Posting every day last week made it crystal clear that when I set a regular deadline to produce, I keep it simple and produce.
Almost all of us give ourselves too long to get things done. It feels safe to have all that time, but we’re really training ourselves to spend too much time thinking and not enough time acting. It’s better to have slightly too little time than too much time.
Don’t trust your instincts. Put yourself on a deadline.
Then shorten it.