The Parkinson’s Law: Believe me, It’s Interesting…
Let me admit this, I haven’t been writing for months, and honestly, I don’t know why. Sometimes I think lack of topics is the culprit, sometimes I think I am just too lazy. So I found a topic from this problem of mine itself, and that is Parkinson’s Law.
How I Got this Idea
So what I did was I looked back at why I was not feeling like writing a story. I tried to extract something out of the ore of my laziness, and I struck gold!
What I observed is that unless you are a freelancer (which I don’t think I am), or if you take this as a job, you will never have a particular deadline or a pressing rule that will make you do it eventually. That’s when I figured out what topic I wanted to write on, so let’s get into it!
What does the Law mean?
The graph you see here is the Parkinson’s Law. It is a simple effort-time graph prepared by me which denotes how you put in efforts in the same work but different deadlines. At first, it sounds complex, here is how it goes:
Work expands based on the time you allot to it — Northcote Parkinson.
We can look at it in this way, the amount of time you have for completing a task, more the time you will take to complete the same work. If you have more time, you tend to put in fewer efforts throughout the time interval, so that you complete your work just before the deadline. If you have less time, you put more effort and complete the work. Let’s take this graph and shrink it horizontally.
Look at the effort here! It is so much as compared to the time. Work on the other hand, remains the same. The time decreases and the efforts increase, but their product remains the same, so we can derive some equations from this:
Efforts Taken = Work to be done / Time Given (The work done in a specific period of time will be your efforts)
Work to be done = Efforts Taken x Time Given (The sum of your efforts throughout the time interval)
Time Taken = Work to be done / Efforts Taken (The efforts taken while doing the work will increase with decrease in time)
Now that we notice how less time effects the efforts, let us see how more time effect efforts:
This is what happens when you have more time to do your work, this time the efforts put in at a particular time will be lesser as compared to the other two situations. When the time increases, the efforts decrease.
So here are all three of them combined:
Notice the difference? Notice how the graphs change with the time?
Let’s take an example
This is one of the common examples when it comes to Parkinson’s Law.
We need two cases for this:
You have to complete a 500-word essay in 3 Days, that time is good enough. You can relax and write around 200 words a day. If you aren’t lazy, you will probably complete it on the second day itself. But you won’t put as much effort as you will in the second case.
Imagine now you only have 3 hours to finish the essay, now you will have to finish it fast. So you will pick up a pen and paper, or a laptop and start finishing your essay. You work continuously, researching and not removing your hands off the pen or keyboard and just finish it before the deadline.
Compare the efforts you took in both cases. It is more in the 3-hour case, but the work, that is the total sum of all efforts, is the same, the 500-word essay.
Many people think is that Parkinson’s Law is harmful. But you can take it this way: If you can manage to complete work in less time by putting in more effort, Why don’t you set this into your mind that the work was due earlier? Wouldn’t that motivate you to complete work before? So then you can give your time to things you enjoy!
How it saves us from Procrastination:
Procrastination is a monstrosity that can come to anyone but fortunately happens to be not-so-difficult to overcome. When you procrastinate, what are you doing? You are simply wasting your time and putting your work for later, and later and later. So you can imagine the graph shrinking and shrinking more. This leads to a change in your attitude towards your task.
Let me ask you a question, When do you stop procrastinating? The most likely answer will be that because the work eventually became so much, that you had to do the task because completing it was important for you. So it is our mind that forces us to do our work, to finish it before the deadline. But the problem is, that the quality of the work is not as good. Still, you get the sense of achievement as you completed your work at the end of the day, and that is where the concept of ‘not procrastinating’ comes in, it will affect the quality. Parkinson’s Law might help you overcome procrastination, but what is the need to procrastinate in the first place?
What do you think was common among all the examples I gave you? It was a deadline. The deadline happens to get you to do the work when you need to, and so you are forced to do it, and so you do it. But the problem is, you won’t have a deadline always, in the sense, it is a long-term task. Some people might think this is good as now there is nothing to command you to do the work and so you can take all the time in the world to do it. But that is not true. The time will come, and when it will come, it will come fast. So we need to be prepared for it. Parkinson’s Law is now a villain in this case, which you have to defeat, and the weapon you can use is ‘not procrastinate’ (I couldn’t come up with a better name). Often in our lives, these long term tasks are the most crucial ones: clearing an exam, getting a job, starting a company, etc.
Parkinson’s Law will make you complete the task when it’s a short-term one. But it should be avoided when it is a long-term task, or rather, a long-term goal, and so we should just shake procrastination away and do what we need to do, and most importantly, when we need to do it.