Monday, July 9, 2012

Parkinson’s Law...

       I’ve always said that I can clean my house in 4 hours if I have 4 hours OR 1 hour if that is all the time I’ve got.  It turns out that this practice actually has a name: Parkinson’s Law.  Defined as: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
       The adage wasn’t coined by the disease (Parkinson’s :) but from Cyril Northcote Parkinson mentioning the principle in The Economist magazine in 1955.  In simple terms, Parkinson’s Law states that the amount of time in which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete that said task.  
       One example I read about is how an elderly lady (maybe like me) can spend all day writing a postcard to a friend: an hour to find the postcard, another to find her glasses, more time looking for the address followed by time to compose a note, followed by getting it off to the post office. A busier person with no extra time can pretty much complete the same task in a matter of minutes.
       So it seems that work (especially paperwork) is elastic in its demands on time.  Which makes it worthwhile to set deadlines for ourselves, even if they are self-imposed.  I suppose my blog posts often follow Parkinson’s Law too.  If it’s a busy day and I only have a few minutes, I can usually get it done quickly but if I have more time, I can fill up (maybe squander) extra time too.