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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Parkinson's Law

By Albert Yang


Parkinson's Law ~ “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson's Law of Finance ~ “Expense expands so as to fill available budget.”

Parkinson's Generalized Law ~ “You will always get the lowest item of which you deem acceptable.”

Background Blurb: (From Wikipedia)

“It was first articulated by C. Northcote Parkinson in an article published in The Economist in 1955, later reprinted together with other essays in the book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress (London, John Murray, 1958), based on extensive experience in the British Civil Service. The scientific observations which contributed to the law's development included noting that as Britain's overseas empire declined in importance, the number of employees at the Colonial Office increased.”

While I have listed quite a few laws, just as according to Pareto Principle, Parkinson's Law will make up the bulk of this book, and it IS the 20% that will make up 80% of your daily battles. Understanding Parkinson's Law will probably be the single most important knowledge you have in your life. (No, I'm not kidding nor exaggerating). This law and its sole understanding will determine if you have a good marriage, if you have a great retirement, if your country is clean, if your life is happy, if you get a promotion. Singularly, it will so engross and encompass every aspect of your life you won't believe it.

Parkinson's Law, and its subsequent corollaries; are almost magical in its profoundness when you understand them. If you have a project, and you are given a month to complete it, you will complete it in a month. If you have the same project and are given two months to complete it, then you will complete itin two months.

Anybody who has ever been a college student understands this. While a paper is due in two weeks, most of us will do the paper the night before. If the paper were assigned and we were only given one day to finish it, we would all revolt against the professor, yet when you take a look at the reality of the fact, most of us actually do it in less than 24 hours all the time. So Parkinson's Law, as it applies to school and business, is fairly easy to understand and there are dozens of examples that could be sited. These however, are fairly clear and straight forward.

It is however, the subtle underlining forms of Parkinson's Law, those that we don't notice, that really ruin our lives.

Let me give you a few examples. Does your alarm clock have a “snooze” button? If so, and you use it, you are a victim of Parkinson's Law. If your alarm is set at 7:00am, and when it rings, you press the snooze button and “sneak” 10 more minutes of sleep in, you are now a victim of Parkinson's Law. You can almost call it the Parkinson's Law of sleep, “Sleep will expand to fill time available.” So even before you actually get out of bed, you are a victim to Parkinson's Law already, and it goes downhill from there.

Because you woke up 10 minutes later, you try to sooth your nerves by telling yourself that you have plenty of time; which of course according to Parkinson's Law, is another lie in and of itself. You say you have plenty of time, and so you slow down your morning routine, and bam! Parkinson's Law applies again, and your morning routine expands to fill (and then overfill) your available time.

Once you finally get to work, you sit down to answer ONE email, and then one email becomes ten emails, and soon, what you were suppose to do Monday morning is not done. So you say to yourself, “That's ok, I'll just put in a little overtime tonight, no problem.” But what you didn't understand was of course, that Parkinson's Law applies to overtime, and so by giving yourself overtime, Parkinson's Law kicks in once again, and the amount of work you do because you allowed yourself to do overtime is actually the same or LESS than if you didn't have overtime.

This all seems ridiculous, but it's true. If you are the boss of a company, take heed. In a survey of employees who worked 6 hours a day, 8 hours a day, and 10 hours a day. The SAME PERSON, working 6 hours a day, is MORE efficient and got MORE work done than working 8 or 10 hours a day!

How can this be?? It's a mixture of Parkinson's Law and Pareto Principle actually. Even if they had 6 hours of work only, if given 10 hours, they will automagically expand the work to fill 10 hours. So productivity goes down as does efficiency. This is further witnessed by the increased productivity of company CEO's who only go into the office three times a week; or even as little as one time a week compared to those who are at the office all the time.

I will talk more about this when I introduce Pareto Principle, and its combination with Parkinson's Law.

Understand one critical thing though, Parkinson's Law of time, does not shrink, it only grows. That means, when you have a project that is one week long, and later on, you find out you have two weeks instead of one week to finish it, then you will take two weeks. BUT, if you had a project that was two weeks long before, and you then are given only one week to finish it, your project WILL BECOME DELAYED.

So Parkinson's Law only expands, it doesn't shrink. I teach you later on though, how to make it shrink.

Read? Parkinson's Law of Finance

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