Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress

11 05 2011

The law states “work expands to fill the time available for its completion,” and could also be further generalized to say: The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource. Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson’s law of pursuing progress can be used in every aspect of life, especially of reaching our goals. Many of us had the daunting task of completing assignments, finishing papers within a week, losing 10 pounds in 2 months or finishing all your work duties before the end of day. We spread our energy, resources and skills into the task base on the allotted time given to us.

We can accomplish much more then we think if we give ourselves a deadline to complete them. Reports can be done with a week rather then a month. Losing 10 pounds can be shed within a matter of two weeks if done properly. Your workload can done with a few hours if we learn to focus on priorities.

A prime example would be the workplace. It’s another long day and your boss is breathing down your neck with completing the monthly reports for the company’s quarterly sales. Your wife calls to tell you she can’t pick up the kids today and she needs you to leave work at 3, which is three hours earlier then you normally leave for work. It’s already noon and now you have all this work to do before you leave. You prioritize what needs to be done, you limit your distractions, increased your effort and before you know it the report is given to your boss. The quality of the work is just as good if not better then having the full 6 hours you had left to complete them.

Let’s look at a graph of this principle.

Our efforts are increased when the time allotted is shortened. As time is dragged on, our efforts drastically decreased. So given a strict time frame when goals and task needs to be completed our energy and resources is focused to complete them.

We can us Parkinson’s Law to be more efficient and effective in meeting deadlines and reaching our personal goals. Putting a deadline to each task or each goal refocuses our target and energy to what needs to be done as well enforces our effort to its maximum possibilities.




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