Do you really need more time to do what you’re doing? Maybe not, if you buy into the theory known as Parkinson’s Law, created by British historian and journalist Cyril Northcote Parkinson (1909-1993). What I love about this theory and many that sprung out of it is its basic premise: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
It’s on my mind because I’ve been tweaking my daily schedule and trying to figure out how much time I need to devote to various areas related to my professional and personal goals. Interestingly, having an open three hour “sacred work time” still doesn’t keep me focused enough and I have found myself wasting time because (I guess) I have too much of it. Bottom line for many of us, we need to manage our time better, which ultimately means managing our priorities, but let’s get back to this theory.
The amount of time which one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task, according to Parkinson. In other words, we use all the time we have been given – whether we need it or not – to complete a task.
I can see how the opposite can also occur. Why are some of us chronically late? We are in a constant rush, making others consistently wait for us. Yet, we can be on time when we really need to be. I attended a wedding last year in which the bride was over 20-minutes late to the church. Wedding started 45-minutes later. Having said that, most of the peeps I know who are always late are truly awesome, generous, warm-hearted and intelligent folks. Behavior may seem rude and disrespectful but they are not. Okay, fine. I’m often late. Transparency. That’s my promise. Which is why I’m working on my schedule and priorities.
My issue is with leaving things undone. I’m very efficient so I always think I can wrap something up in five minutes and it bugs the crap out of me to walk away from an unfinished project. Many of us also pack too many things into our time frame or we like a little extra attention or we are terrible judges of our own time and how we manage it. Other reasons, too.
My point is that we just don’t honor and protect one of our most important and critical elements of day-to-day existence. If I leave myself open to writing a thank you note, editing a new blog and working on radio guests, I might take 30-minutes to pick out the note, decide what color pen I want to use (I’m weird about pens) get some coffee, think about other thank you notes I’ve written and try to write the best one ever. Wait, I think that might even take me 45-minutes. If I’m late for a birthday lunch and I need to write out the card, I will pick one, grab a nice pen (my favorite is a Uni Micro Super Ink – but any color and I’m not making money off this link, in fact, I need to purchase this pack before you do), write a nice note and be done in less than five minutes. However, the fact that I’m writing out a card when I need the time to get ready and still package the gift probably makes me a little late anyway…
I’ll leave you with two thoughts and hopefully, we will all be managing and respecting and cherishing our time with better boundaries and discipline. How do you manage your time? Always good to hear from you time pro’s!
- If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.
- Not planning ahead makes an easy day harder and a hard day down right tough.