Parkinson’s Law: How SmartSheet could help you in your time management


What is the exact meaning of Parkinson’s Law?

 

Parkinson’s Law is developed by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in an article published in The Economist in 1955, Parkinson’s Law is based on the study of work in British administrations. It states that all work ends up occupying the time allotted to it. In other words, if you give an employee a week to complete a job, it will take a week, but if you give him a month to achieve the same project, it will take a month.

Add value-adding detail: Illustration of Parkinson’s law

To understand very well Parkinson’s Law, let’s jump to a simple example to help you get the main idea of that law:

Imagine you wake up and you would love to make breakfast, but you have only 10 mins to do it, you’ll surely go for fast-food or similar stuff. Now, take the same example, but in this case, you have 2 hours, you might cook a delicious breakfast, and for sure the delicious breakfast you made is certainly to be more nutritious and satisfying than any fast food. This example illustrates very well Parkinson’s Law “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

But why does “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”?

When we are assigned a task, we think about how much time we have to complete it rather than how much time we actually need. Because of this mindset, we waste time and follow inefficient processes. For this reason, we often tend to take all the time we have to complete a task, even though it could be done more quickly. As Elon Musk famously said: “If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions, and potential.”

“You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” Warren Buffet

There is a minimum amount of time needed for every project or task. While pushing yourself and using resources to cut down on time is beneficial, you must be careful not to go overboard. Whatever productivity strategy you use, you must devote the minimum necessary time to your assignment. As Warren Buffet said: “You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”

Knowing how long it will take you to reach your goals and setting a stretch goal that is realistic are the two most important steps you should always keep in your mind.

Parkinson’s Law and time management: what is the relationship between them?

Parkinson’s Law challenges the notion that working harder means higher performance in terms of time management. According to Parkinson, a project will take however much time you give it. You can finish a job in an hour if you give it an hourly deadline. Giving a one-hour assignment a six-month deadline will make it too complicated and cause unnecessary stress for the work at hand.

The main concept of Parkinson’s Law time management theory is that you may keep a task’s simplicity and allow more time by giving it a precise deadline.

Parkinson’s is ultimately trying to get through to us that sometimes we just give tasks too much time to finish. It’s essential to remember as a project manager that working harder doesn’t always mean working longer hours.

So how could we perform more tasks in less time?

Based on Parkinson’s law, we take all available allotted time to complete the task, even if we don’t really need it. But we should bear in mind that having more time does not mean more productivity, here we talk about the concept of productivity, in fact, the Parkinson’s law can’t always be applied directly for any tasks, imagine we are in an IT industry and we ask a web developer to create a dynamic web site that includes 20 pages, well designed and respects UX/UI principles design, and then we ask him to complete all these tasks in just 3 days, you see that is not appropriate right?

That’s why the first step to consider to combat Parkinson’s Law is starting by believing that we don’t have to finish a task or a project based on having to use up all the allotted time. It’s not about working very in order to meet a deadline, nor is it about focusing only on one thing. It’s about striking a good balance between having a suitable level of productivity and being able to finish more things in a shorter amount of time.

How can Smartsheet help you with great time estimation of your project?

In our daily work life, we must estimate the time needed to complete a task, and this is the main use of Parkinson’s Law here comes the great Smartsheet, in fact, Smartsheet is an online work execution platform that empowers you to keep tasks on track, remain ahead of project timelines, and execute projects on time and on budget, Smartsheet offers a real-time view of tasks across whole projects, regardless of the scope or complexity of your project. Based on this, businesses all over the world use Smartsheet as their project management software

Scroll to Top