Procrastinators of the World, Meet Parkinson’s Law

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Girl procrastinating because her deadline is in a few days, demonstrating Parkinson's Law in action by GradSimple.

While busy procrastinating one summer afternoon, I stumbled across a company that sells accountability. Basically, you can pay them to pester you into completing your projects. Cool idea. I was absolutely not going to buy it, but as I was reading through their website copy, one point in particular really drew my attention.

Parkinson’s Law.

What is that, you may wonder?

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

If you have one singular brain cell like me, you need ChatGPT to explain this to you like you’re 5 years old. Ahem:

Parkinson’s Law suggests that if you allocate a certain amount of time to complete a task, even if the task could be completed sooner, the task will take up all of that allocated time. This phenomenon can lead to inefficiency and procrastination, as people may end up spending more time on a task than necessary.

Ah yes, I’ve fallen prey to this many, many times. Even right now, as I type this article. Learning about Parkinson’s Law made me reflect on my own work habits – and boy, do I have some refining to do.

Time Management

I’ve always been terrible at it. I can set arbitrary deadlines all I want, but the dates I pick provide zero sense of urgency to complete my task. Take this post, for example. I want to have it done by Friday. It’s a Tuesday. Articles like these don’t take too long to conceptualize and write. I could crank out a draft in maybe an hour, including research.

Then why, pray tell, do I need to give myself four days? Well, I like to feel comfortable with the knowledge that if I don’t work on it today, that’s fine! I’m still within my deadline. I’ll get it done later, nooo problem.

This feels wrong, doesn’t it? Or at the very least, it seems inefficient.

So, let’s think about it this way. If work expands to fill the time allotted to complete it, the opposite must be true, too. Work contracts to fit the time we force upon it.

This sounds rather brutish, but sometimes a little discipline is needed to produce great things. Diamonds are made under pressure, yadda yadda.

Well look at that, I’m finished now. This article took me about an hour and 25 minutes to draft (in between a few TikTok breaks). And you won’t see the editing part, which will take another 30-ish minutes. But hey, guess what?

It’s still Tuesday!

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Head Writer and Editor for GradSimple. She also translates all of Ricky's incoherent raccoon ramblings into readable content (newsletter subscribers know what's up).

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