What is Parkinson's Law

What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done.

What is Parkinson's Law

:eight_pointed_black_star:Parkinson’s Law Examples

Parkinson’s Law is the old precept that work expands to fill the time which is allotted. Put simply that the amount of work required adjusts to the time available for its completion. The term was first stamped by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for the Economist in 1955. This is a law found in 1955 by Cyril Northcote who was a very famous British historian.

Parkinson pointed the two main most critical elements that lead to bureaucratisation. What he called is the law of multiplication of subordinates and the tendency of managers to hire two or more then two subordinates to report them so that neither there is in direct competition with the manager them self. Also the fact that bureaucrats create work for other bureaucrats.

Here is a very simple example. That you and your team have two weeks in total to plan a surprise party for one of your colleagues. So it is more than enough time to order a cake, reserve and decorate the room and buy some party hats. What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done.

But you know that you have more enough time at your disposal that the party grows more and more complex. Some of them wants to create an embarrassing slide show. Some one is eager to decorate the conference room and some of them thinks your team should create a handmade card.

Now that the party the should have been a simple easy and quick under taking is something that actually requires almost two weeks to complete. That is Parkinson’s Law in action.

:eight_spoked_asterisk: How you can apply the Parkinson’s Law.

What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done. If you are looking to implement on Parkinson’s Law. Then here are the steps that you need to follow to apply it in your work life.

  1. First focus on the more important tasks. By considering checking the daily tasks and goals which you know are most important. When you have a list of the important tasks then make sure to mark them as urgent.

  2. Give proper time slots to each of the important tasks so that you can easily see what to do first. On the list of the urgent tasks allot some time to each of the tasks so that it will be the deadline to complete that task.

  3. Cut the selected time to half to see if you’re capable of doing it in less time or not. Once you have assigned the time to the tasks you must cut the time in half this will create some pressure on the worker and this pressure will create the urge to complete that task. The person will also not be distracted before the task is not completed.

  4. Review the amount of stress when you have cut the time in half so that if the time shorted deadline is having any stress on you or not. It is because the right amount of stress will increase your productivity. On the other hand if the stress is too much to handle or too little to worry about then the productivity will not increase.

:eight_pointed_black_star:How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Get More Work Done in Less Time

As you get started with the Parkinson’s Law make sure to make a list of your tasks and divide them up by the amount of time it takes to complete them. Then give your self half that time to complete each task to know if you are capable of doing that or not. You have to make the time limit as crucial treat it like any other deadline.

Part of reversing what we have been indoctrinated with is work harder not smarter. It is the right time to see the deadlines you set for your self and make it unbreakable just like the deadlines your boss or clients set.

Use that human automatic craving for competition that fuels such industries such as sports and gaming to make this work for you. You have to win against the clock and strive to beat it as if it were your opponent with out taking short cuts and producing low quality output. This is particularly helpful if you are having trouble taking your own dead lines seriously.

:eight_spoked_asterisk: Parkinson’s Law Of Time

Parkinson’s Law suggest that if it were an accurate observation of time then one would be able to assign a time limit of only one minute to a task and the task would become simple enough to complete with in that minute.

Therefore Parkinson’s Law is simply an observation not some magic. It works because people give tasks longer than they really need and some times because they want some elbow room or buffer but usually because they have a blowup idea of how long the task takes to complete.

:eight_pointed_black_star:How to Overcome Parkinson’s Law

When your team is working on a special project and every member has their own individual tasks with estimated durations then your project due dates are dependent on all the people efficiency. What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done

Apart from a number of an unexpectable uncertainties that your project may face on its way to the goal that you cannot predict. Parkinson’s Law effect is for that you can be ready for both and even prevent it. There are 6 ways to Beat Parkinson’s Law.

1. By Collaborating

The accountability is the king when a team struggles to define all the expectations and accountabilities upfront then counter productive tendencies may crop up.

For example you start a new project and your project manager is eagerly waiting for the business analyst to start defining the requirements. At the same time the business analyst assumes that the project manager will provide all the starting foundation.

But Meanwhile your developer on the team sees no updates between the two and believes that the project is on hold so she does not chime in. Progress slows down and your team ends up by doing nothing.

2. Break Down Your Tasks and Deadlines

Parkinson’s Law always strikes the hardest when you have many tasks with far away deadlines. The best way to fix this is of course by breaking those big inflexible tasks in to many smaller sized tasks along with the several inter mediate deadlines to complete them.

In addition to show you are progressing and achievable deadlines that create a mild sense of urgency during the whole duration of your work. keeping in mind that you naturally engaged and focused on what needs to be done. This method works great indeed but note that you still need to take those intermediate deadlines seriously which is helpful but not always easy.

3. Set Clear Boundaries

Most of the time the Parkinson’s Law kicks in when we are doing too much stuff at the same time. This is also called multi tasking! Avoid at all costs.

Days become a jumble of tasks and hardly it can do any ever to get completely finished. Also with the huge number of distractions that tend to creep in it only gets worse day by day. To avoid this the effects of Parkinson’s Law and to finish tasks sooner work on them one at a time and focused with as few distractions as possible.

Restrict time allocations to each tasks. Short bursts of focused activity under the pressure of time limits will make you more productive and effective. Give your self only five minutes to 10 minutes to answer emails. You will surprise yourself by how easily you manage one word will often suffice. If you are afraid of seeming rude then add a line to appear along with your automated.

4. Challenge Yourself

A less time limit or deadline forces your brain to figure out different ways to get the job done in the restricted time available. Do not add safety buffers when you estimate and allocate the time for your tasks. If you see your estimates with spare time and contingency then that time will be wasted as a result of Parkinson’s Law kicking in.

You will simply take as long as you have time available. So keep this in your mind. Set almost impossible yet believable challenging deadlines for yourself to make life easy. Also try to achieve all of them. Underestimate the time it will take at least internally with in your business. It is not good if you are telling a client you can complete this project in a week when your team will actually need two weeks.

This is not about putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or staff. It is about honesty to make with your client. The relations and accountability by imposing unrealistic or impossible deadlines. What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done

5. Know What Done Means

It is easy to know for sure when a task is finished but not always. The more of a perfectionist you are then the most likely you are a victim of Parkinson’s Law. There is always somethings left behind for aiming for greater quality. So the hard part is knowing where to draw the line so we do not spend a lot of time over doing it.

If you suffer from this same problem one thing is very common that helps a lot is to precisely define the output of your tasks. The trick is to be very specific as you can about them and then simply stop when you complete them.

For example To write white paper draft that allows too much room for interpretation by your inner perfectionist. Write a 1000 word unedited stream of consciousness style text that works much better isn’t it. Being specific up front helps keep our perfectionism in check.

6. Reward yourself for completing a project.

Once Charles Duhigg explains in his best selling book that he Power of Habit how the habit loop causes us to do things on autopilot with out thinking enough. Human beings are reward oriented creatures where any work for completion helps us stay focused.

The reward does not always have to be materialistic but it depends. You can reward your self in little ways to make yourself chase the goal as per the deadline and as per as your need.

For example you can set milestones for a 5 month project and reward yourself with an ice cream for every milestone you meet. Again for such a tactic and difficult to work you must have to be discipline to reward yourself only if you meet the deadline.

:eight_pointed_black_star:Parkinson’s Law The Pursuit Of Progress

When it comes to socio economic development then there are many that argue that the GCC (Gulf co-operation council) is at least half a century behind and more developed Western nations especially given the copious can amounts of bureaucratic baryogenesis. So seeking from insight a 50 year old law on productivity might not be such a bad idea. By the way people only believe that all are a decade or so behind the west.

According to Parkinson the reason for this growth is because there were two factors and not in any way related to the amount of work which is required:

Factor I. — An official wants to multiply the subordinates not rivals; and

Factor II. — Officials make work for each other.

1. Law of Triviality

Two years later in 1957 the Parkinson presented the Law of Triviality as an induction of his broader “Parkinson’s law” spoof of management stating that the organizations tend to place a priority on trivial issues rather than the important ones.

Parkinson also dramatized this new law with the example of a committee spending a fraction of the time deliberating on an expensive atomic reactor that no one understands up till now with that same committee spending way too much time to deliberate a cheap bicycle shed that is something which is essentially easily understood by everyone.

2. Death by Committee

Later on in 1958 book of Parkinson’s Law The Pursuit of Progress where Parkinson devoted an entire chapter to comitology that how committees of government cabinets and other such bodies are created and eventually grow irrelevant or are initially designed as such. Now there are so many committees and so many meetings.

The waste is further compounded here in the region as the government committee members are given a nice attendance bonus and some times as high as the average entry employees salary for every committee meeting they attend.

:eight_pointed_black_star:Parkinson’s Law in Project Management

Parkinson’s Law has a great influence on project performance along with the student syndrome and it is one of the reasons why projects are routinely in efficient and delayed.

With in project scheduling it is important that the project managers are aware of the behaviour caused by Parkinson’s Law and how they can minimise it with scheduling.

According to Parkinson’s Law if a task is either completed on time or delayed. A task is not completed and delivered before its deadline. To achieve this the most efficient use of resources and time. The time allocated for each task in a project needs to correlate with the time to completion using maximum effort.

Project Management Level*

:eight_spoked_asterisk: Eliminate task deadlines

It is based on our experience. People know that they can beat Parkinson’s Law effect by eliminating due dates for tasks and setting up clear priorities. What is Parkinson’s Law? It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done

In such a way the team members plays an important role and will work on the issues from the higher to lower priority and report on their task competition at once. Without waiting for the established due date. It is set up only for intermediate milestones to protect key deliveries.

“It is not important to finish each and every task on time. It is essential to finish each project on time”.

This statement of Goldratt was a bit too harsh and many of the customers could not live with only one milestone. Therefore the Epic flow supports intermediate milestones but related to key dates that if they get in any kind of danger the whole management team will take massive action. You can get all the necessary information there about multiple projects and their milestones in Pipeline.

:eight_spoked_asterisk: Take Breaks

My personal favorite is Parkinson’s Law that tells us we can accomplish things in much less time than we think which is a great news because our brains work best if we take a small break after 90 minutes of work.

Working straight for periods longer than that just leaves us tired and our quality of work goes straight out the door so be careful. So yes let it be known and not doing work actually helps your productivity. Remember these important tips and Parkinson’s Law the next time you undertake a project and use your extra time to take up golf or crochet or something else.

:eight_spoked_asterisk: Safeguard Measures

A project manager needs to be alert to the dangers of Parkinson’s Law and take suitable and maximum steps to guard against them. A few such measures are listed below.

  • Estimate the output per hour for a normal employee. Quantify that as a standard hour of work. Then measure work and productivity in terms of standard hours of out put not in terms of hours worked.

  • Constantly evaluate the employee work loads and provide challenging assignments. Goal setting and project time lines should be with out a very large margin of comfort. This will push employees to work to their potential and prevent them from becoming a smug.

  • Make use of time sheets effectively. Set an example by filling a timesheet in high detail. Then Monitor and ensure compliance from employees. Offer some perks and rewards for suggestions to improve productivity this will make completion. Foster an organizational environment where in employees constantly look for opportunities to improve.

Summary What is Parkinson’s Law is tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done. First focus on the more important tasks. By considering checking the daily tasks and goals which you know are most important. When you have a list of the important tasks then make sure to mark them as urgent.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

There are many questions which are related to Parkinson’s Law are as follows :

1. Is Parkinson’s Law true?

Parkinson’s Law that is used from more then 50 years may not actually be an actual ‘law’ of business.The term was first stamped by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for the Economist in 1955. This is a law found in 1955 by Cyril Northcote who was a very famous British historian.

2. How do you use Parkinson’s Law?

Parkinson’s Law is the law that tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done

3. What is Parkinson’s second law?

Parkinson’s first Law: “It is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion”. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done.
Parkinson’s Second Law: “Expenditures or “money paid” out rises to meet income.” …

4. Who gave Parkinson law?

The term was first stamped by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for the Economist in 1955. This is a law found in 1955 by Cyril Northcote who was a very famous British historian.

Parkinson pointed the two most important critical elements that lead to bureaucratisation. What he called is the law of multiplication of subordinates and the tendency of managers to hire two or more then two subordinates to report them so that neither there is in direct competition with the manager them self. Also the fact that bureaucrats create work for other bureaucrats.

5. What is Parkinson’s Law examples?

Here is a very simple example. That you and your team have two weeks in total to plan a surprise party for one of your colleagues. So it is more than enough time to order a cake, reserve and decorate the room and buy some party hats.

But you know that you only have more than enough time at your disposal that the party grows more and more complex. Some of them wants to create an embarrassing slide show. Some one is eager to decorate the conference room and some of them thinks your team should create a handmade card.

Now that party that should have been a simple easy and quick under taking is something that actually requires almost two weeks to complete. That is Parkinson’s Law in action.

6. How do you hack Parkinson’s Law?

For example : If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done.

7. Why is Parkinsons law important?

By using Parkinson’s Law correctly you can get done with more projects in less time and learn how much time each of your tasks really requires

8. What is Parkinson theory?

Parkinson’s Law is the law which is followed by years is the tendency for the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion.

9. What is Parkinson’s Law time management?

Time management is very important in any business or organization. Working straight for periods longer than that just leaves us tired and our quality of work goes straight out the door so be careful. So yes let it be known and not doing work actually helps your productivity.

10. What is Parkinson’s Law in the project management?

Parkinson’s Law in the project management is two different but at the same time same things. Try to eliminate task deadlines it is is based on our experience. People know that they can beat Parkinson’s Law effect by eliminating due dates for tasks and setting up clear priorities.

:eight_pointed_black_star:Conclusion

Parkinson’s Law is the amount of work that expands to fill the period of time available for its completion. If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If it must be done in six months, then it will but just stress and tension about having to get it done

Instead of waiting for a lot of deadlines and tasks to the employees that will pressurize the employees Parkinson’s law focuses on providing a suitable amount of stress to the employees. In such ways the team members plays an important role and will work on the issues from the higher to lower priority and report on their task competition at once. Without waiting for the established due date. It is set up only for intermediate milestones to protect key deliveries.

This stress will be easy to handle because of the short deadlines but the addition of things like breaks while the working time makes it easy for the employees to manage things .By using Parkinson’s Law correctly, you can get more done in less time and learn how much time each of your tasks really requires. Give proper time slots to each of the important tasks so that you can easily see what to do first. On the list of the urgent tasks allot some time to each of the tasks so that it will be the deadline to complete that task.