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Archive for July 17th, 2008

Productivity: Understanding Parkinson’s Law

Posted by medliorator on July 17, 2008

Parkinson’s law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”, and Ferriss emphasises that a task will also swell in perceived complexity and importance in direct proportion to the amount of time you allot to it… For academics, a lot of the work we do is defined by our own time deadlines, and we often have a reasonable amount of freedom in deciding when a given task must be done by. Procrastination is one corollary of Parkinson’s law. Have you ever met someone who is bad at managing deadlines, but says that they work best when leaving things to the last minute? The deadline pressure encourages them to focus, block out distractions, and become highly productive. They get a lot done in a short period of time, which without a deadline would have taken them forever to do.

The solution to Parkinson’s law is obvious – limit the amount of time you have to do tasks. …the method that I have seen employed by highly productive academics is that for every hour of your working day, you have a clear idea of what you have to accomplish in that time. In addition, they have tasks that follow which are contingent about completion of work in the preceding time period. And if you setting up these mini deadlines in conjunction with fixed items in calendar (meetings, talks etc) it gives you a hard landscape in which to help enforce deadline pressure.

Parkinson’s law and productivity [Academic Productivity]

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