Defeating “Parkinson’s Law” for Productivity

24 04 2009



Whose "deadlines" drive us - ours or theirs? Its all perspective.

Whose "deadlines" drive us - ours or theirs? Its all perspective.


      Lets talk about a single idea that is PROFOUND in their relevance to human acheivement.  With a basic understanding of this principal, we can learn to structure our own lives towards optimal productivity – and (hopefully) we can bring about the best efforts from others.


  • Parkinson’s Law – (coined by C. N. Parkinson in his 1955 essay “The Economist”)

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” 


      Take a second to think about this one as I give you an example from my own life. I’ll bet that if I had 8 hours to take out the recycling, finish an essay, design a new website page, edit a video, and organize my room, then these tasks would take me 8 hours. If I only had 4 hours to get these things done, I’ll bet I would get them done in 4 hours – without a significant drop in the quality of the work.

      How is this possible?! To be frank, its borderline enlightening when you realize how much you can truly accomplish when they right kind of pressure is on – when you believe that you HAVE to dive into a task – you get it done!

      So, it may seem like the answer is to cram each of our days with so many tasks that we force ourselves to be productive. Though this might be a fun experiment, it would likely become overwhelming and certainly doesn’t seem to be how we want to experience ALL of our life.

      Here’s a tip to accomplish tasks and have fun, taking into account this funny little facet of our psychology:


Control the Pressure –

      Instead of waiting for tasks to pile up an for a sense of anxiety and overwhelm, take the responsibility for the pressure, and apply it to yourself when you think its best!

      You might have no pressing tasks to do at work or home – but you’ve got a million fantastic things you could do. Maybe you could finish a project early, study and take notes on a book about personal finance, pick up supplies for next week’s party, and study a foreign language. Feel like getting things done? Apply the pressure!

      By this I do not mean become stressed and anxious, what I mean is to give yourself a little deadline, and set yourself up for a FUN CHALLENGE. I call it “driving tension.” Its the kind of subtle tension that keeps us moving, pushing to achieve and see how much we can do. This energy is not depressing, but exciting!


      In controlling this “driving tension,” we can direct our own motivation and compell ourselves out of genuine expression (as opposed to percieved obligation) to accomplish and acieve – we can bring out the best in ourselves.

      Why wait until you feel as though your job, health, or relationships are on the line before being massively productive?

      In a sense, our lives are always on the line – we can always act in a way that expresses far less than our potential allows… but do we want to? Why not enjoy applying this kind of structural drive to our lives whenever we could use it? 

      Try it out on a “lazy day.” Set deadlines, line up some tasks, and let your excitement to accomplish (rather than your fear of loss) drive you to maximize your potential!









One response

2 05 2009

Ever since I’ve gotten into self-development ideas, stuff like this has been on my mind. How can we use our own minds to propel us where we want to go, not where we feel we “have” to go.

I like the post, grab life by the horns! We’ve got to set our own parameters, and be driven by what we desire most and the criteria we find important

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