Avoid Working Too Hard, Too Long, and Wasting Your Time, with Parkinson’s Law

I set myself a few days to work on a short video and blog post that I would share on my personal social media page on Facebook and on this blog.

The first few days, I sorted through different blog post ideas I had written down in a list, picked my favourites and sorted those. I didn’t make much progress.

The final day, today, I started writing notes and outlines for a couple of them. I did some research too. I focused first on what I found to be a very nebulous topic of “How To Get To A Decision Point In Your Life”. The second idea I worked on was what amounted to a collection of notes from YouTube videos on the topic of “Jordan Peterson on The Importance of Having a Daily Routine”.

As I was working on this, I knew that this whole project was taking too long. I knew that while I was working very hard on putting ideas together, I didn’t want to make a 10-minute video with graphics, slides, and clips from other related YouTube videos. This would simply take too long.

Yet, I kept working on all of that detailed work. Why? Because I had the time to do so. I really did not have much else planned but to work on this project for the second half of the day.

Finally, I decided to do a short YouTube video, off-the-cuff, about what I head learned in taking on this short project.

The whole video project was an excellent example of Parkinson’s Law at work:

Parkinson’s Law is the adage that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’

— Wikipedia

This project was taking me so long because I gave myself all of that time to work on it.

As the day’s sunlight grew dimmer, and my opportunity to film outside was slipping away, I simply decided to get outside and make a short video about this very principle.

And here it is:

The lesson:

If you want to work as efficiently as some of the most productive people out there, challenge yourself to get things done in as short a time as possible while still fulfilling the criteria you’ve set for the task.

Then, you can move onto the next task or project, and seek to achieve that efficiently as well.

Doing something over and over again, and aiming to improve just a little bit (even 1% or 0.5%) each time, will lead to far better results and help you get a lot more done than doing something perfectly the first time (and taking a very long time to do it).