Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
For example, when you find yourself somehow getting all the house cleaning done that you’ve been putting off for days, in a matter for 30 minutes because you know you have company coming over. On the flip side of that, perhaps you know you have a month to finish a project (or no deadline at all) so you find this project dragging out for weeks or months and never seeming to come to completion.
I point this out to illustrate how (as we’ve heard many times before, I’m sure) we ALL have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just a matter of how we use them. Suppose then, if Parkinson’s Law is true, then you already know how to combat it! Understanding something and knowing of its existence helps you to overcome it that much more easily. Just like “admitting you have a problem” is the first step to overcoming other areas of life – so is admitting that you’re not using your time in the most efficient manner. Once you pass the roadblock of acknowledging your own contribution to the problem – you start to focus on solutions!
If this, then that!
*IF you know you let things drag on unnecessarily, THEN you should find a way to make it interesting or give it meaning.
Perhaps you set a timer every day for 10-30 minutes and you solely focus on whatever it is for that time. Maybe you try and make it a “challenge” and find some sort of reward mechanism upon completion. Loop in some friends for accountability and see if providing daily (or weekly) updates can motivate you to make progress.
I once saw a college student who would “bookmark” places in the textbook reading with money. If a chapter needed to be read, then at the end of that chapter lay a dollar (or you could replace this with some other incentive, larger amount of money or whatever), and only after sufficiently comprehending the material, would that dollar get to go back into the wallet, or be moved on to the next chapter marker.
I find that I work on inverse principles, where I don’t drag things on – I just refuse to start until properly motivated. I am a habitual “last minute” person and almost always have been. I will clean more before guests come over than I will in a weekend. I will write a paper in an evening that I’ve had weeks to prepare. I find that (for me) a slight bit of “stress” is needed for me to want to begin. I produce well (good grades on papers, etc) but I just can’t have “too” much time, or an open ended deadline in which to work.
*IF you are like me, THEN you need to be honest about what you can accomplish and willing to accept spillover.
What I mean, is that I KNOW my capabilities. Before I even consider the project/paper or whatever, I KNOW the expectation, WHO my audience/judge is and what is at stake. I don’t leave it up to chance – which is part of the reason I am so comfortable in my “procrastination” or whatever you want to call it. If I know my final grade of a class is riding on a paper, of course I will plan it out and do more work on the regular – BUT if I know that the stakes are low, I might wait longer. I also very much DO accept late nights, or added frustration if they come my way though, because I know that was of my own doing.
All in all – just don’t let work or worry blow up into some three headed monster. It really needn’t be. You can plan, schedule and execute on anything, you just have to get in the proper mindset. You know what works for you, where you focus best, what time of day you are most alert, if you need silence or background noise, and the list goes on. If you don’t know, then maybe you should spend some time figuring it out, because only then can you set yourself up for peak performance. Just know yourself and be willing to work on creating the best environment for YOU, don’t compare your mindset, work space needs, or ability against anyone else.