#164 Parkinson's Law

Reduce Time to Increase Output

If you’re into Optimizing, you’ve probably heard of something called “Parkinson’s Law.”

Although the phrase was originally coined in a humorous commentary about bureaucratic inefficiencies for the Economist in 1955, here’s the basic idea: The amount of time it takes you to complete something will expand to the amount of time you give it.

In other words, if you want something done really efficiently, give yourself a very short period of time in which to do it.

Have you ever noticed that you can get a week’s worth of work done the day before you need to leave town on your vacation?

Yah. That’s Parkinson’s Law at work.

So, Today’s +1.

What do you need to get done? Can you contract the amount of time you’re giving yourself to complete it and create a little more velocity? (Remember: Speed Is a Force!) (And, remember our Deep Work formula: High Quality Work Produced = Intensity of Focus x Time! Interestingly, by reducing Time you can increase Intensity of Focus!)

On a personal note: I do this with my writing. I often force myself to crank out 5 rough drafts of these +1s in my first AM Deep Work slot.

Of course, I could give myself all day to do the same amount of work and, then, it would take all day. Here’s what’s interesting: I find that when I force myself to just hammer through a number of them in a short period of time, the quality of the first draft actually increases while the time decreases because I’m on the clock and I need to quickly and powerfully express what I believe in a fun, direct style—there’s simply no time for the over-thinking part of my brain to come in and rain on the creative parade. (Of course, I need to bring that slower, more deliberate part into the editing phase but even that can be Parkinson-ed.)


Back to you.

What do you need to get done today?

Run an experiment: Reduce the amount of time you give yourself and see if that doesn’t INCREASE the amount of work you get done AND increase the quality of that work. (Not to mention the time you spend in Flow—which will be the focus of our next +1.)

-1. -1. -1. if we want to +1. +1.+1. 😃

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