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Reverse Parkinson's Law
by Ron D. Pate

 

To achieve the maximum level of success possible in life, it is pretty sure bet that you're going to have to accomplish much more than the average person accomplishes. It is also a certainty that you have precisely the same number of hours in a given day, and the same days in a given year as the next person. Therefore, to accomplish more than most, you must make the best use of your time, and achieve the maximum amount of efficiency and effectiveness possible.

British Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson first articulated in 1958 what is known today as "Parkinson's Law". It states simply that, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Obviously work expanding in scope or magnitude works against the principle of completing as much as possible on your journey of success. What then is the answer to this law to allow you to achieve the maximum results possible? It would seem obvious – make less time available for a given task so that you can in effect get it done more quickly.

You may have heard the proverbial phrase 'It is the busiest man who has time to spare." It is important to understand that this phrase does not truly mean the busiest man, but rather the man who has the most going on and who is accomplishing the most with his time. That being the case, this is truly wise counsel. The reason is that those who are accomplishing the most, and who seem to be extremely busy, have worked out the waste in their processes and have figured out and applied important principles of success.

Those who achieve a lot typically follow a highly organized daily plan for their time, and they typically keep a list of tasks to be completed with some priority assigned to each, and most importantly with a deadline set for the completion of the tasks. They focus on completing tasks in the most effective and efficient way possible, keeping their eye on the end goal and being very aware that a task completed late may have a compounding negative affect on other tasks and goals, and thus may often be less valuable than having never started the given task.

When you think only of completing the task, instead of thinking of the time you have available to complete the task, the so-called sin of perfection sets in. You may spend a lot of additional time trying to perfect every little step of the process, even if such perfection does not truly add lasting value in the completion of the task at hand. You will undoubtedly go overboard to find ways to justify your actions. You may play mind games with yourself, chalking your actions up to excellence when the truth is, if you don't complete your task when it needs to be completed, you should consider your extra, and unnecessary actions needless wheel-spinning.

So, it is important that you place a firm deadline on your tasks and that you adjust your approach to completion to ensure you complete your actions by the deadline whenever possible. Focus on getting the task done in the most expeditious, effective manner possible, and don't allow Parkinson's law to set in. Take some time to carefully reflect on what you're doing, how you're doing it, and the results you're getting and see if, taking the above short lesson into account, you can improve your actions to allow you to accomplish more in your journey of success.



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Copyright 2006 by Ron D. Pate. All rights reserved.