Have you ever stalled a task with long deadline? Every day you think, “There’s time, definitely tomorrow.” But, tomorrow brought procrastination and the task was again shifted to the back.
We have all done that. Rarely do we do a task with a long deadline early, and when we do it, it feels like an achievement.
You may have noticed that even if the deadline for a task was shorter, it was easily possible to accomplish it. However, we let the laziness kick in and leave it to tomorrow.
Here comes the Parkinson’s law which says, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
While there are various breakdowns and evaluated meanings of this law, the truth is, it wants to say if you have 10 hours to complete a 1-hour job, you’ll automatically drag it for 10 hours.
I have done it, you have done it, and we all have done it sometime or the other. With this, I also remember that someone once told me, “If you can complete a task now, do it without wasting time.” It is not odd that this completely goes hand-in-hand with Parkinson’s law.
How Can You Relate To Parkinson’s Law?
If we go back to a couple thousand years, then we’d see a life of struggle. Not that we don’t struggle today, we struggle more in our imagination. At that time, people used to preserve energy for survival and the times they’d need it. These times included hunting, building, etc.
If today we need food but don’t want to cook it, we can order it online with a click. Earlier, there were no such provisions, so, everybody had to struggle for basic needs.
So, when we wait until the last minute, we are actually picking on habits acquired from our ancestors. As the deadline hits our calendar, we go into urgency mode and complete the work and often in less time. It is because deadline gives us a sense of urgency and we know it is important for our work reputation, so we complete it on time anyway.
Here’s how you can use Parkinson’s law to your advantage:
- Set your own deadline – Let’s understand this with an example: You have a task that needs to be delivered in 10 days, but you can do this task in 12 hours maximum. So, what do you do? Most, including me, will wait till the 9th day and then start. Stop that. Make your own deadlines, and break the task into 3 or 4 slots. If you take 4 slots, then you have to do each slot in 2 days.
- Think about what you’ll lose if you miss the deadline- You have set your own deadline, now what? You work hard to stick to this deadline. Obviously, if we have enough laziness in us to wait till the end day, who says we won’t skip our own pseudo-deadlines? Tell yourself what you’ll miss if you miss the deadline. Tell yourself that you can go home early on the date of deadline and watch a movie if you complete work on time.
- But, don’t be too optimistic with deadlines- Though we need to set self-deadlines, don’t be too optimistic. Don’t overestimate your capabilities of working and be realistic to avoid demotivating yourself.
In between all this, don’t forget that it is not a race. This is just something that we all should do for ourselves, and it is okay if sometimes you can’t complete the work before deadline.