Hey, productivity enthusiasts!

Ever noticed how tasks tend to stretch to fit the time you allocate for them? Welcome to the world of Parkinson's Law, an intriguing principle that might just be the missing puzzle piece in your productivity journey.

The Mysterious World of Parkinson's Law

Picture this: You have a week to complete a project. Somehow, despite all odds and distractions, you finish it—on the last day. Now, rewind and imagine you had just one day for that same task. Miraculously, you still get it done. Why? Parkinson's Law states: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." This means that if you have less time to complete a task, you will still manage to finish it within that shorter timeframe. It is the reason why a 5-minute task could take an entire day under the right conditions. It's not just about work, though. Think of those last-minute holiday packing sprees or frantic cleaning sessions before guests arrive. The deadline dictates the pace, and our brain magically gears up to meet it.

What is Parkinson's Law?

The term was first coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for “The Economist” in 1955. Parkinson's Law has since been widely recognised and applied in various fields, highlighting the importance of setting realistic deadlines and managing time effectively.

The Productivity Paradox

While Parkinson’s Law can sometimes seem like a quirky trick our brains play on us, it has profound implications for productivity. If tasks swell to fit the time frame, then setting tighter deadlines can, counterintuitively, lead to faster and often more focused results. Setting tighter deadlines can, counterintuitively, lead to faster and often more focused results because it forces us to prioritise and work efficiently.

Harnessing the Law to Your Advantage

The real magic unfolds when we consciously apply this law to our advantage. I structure my tasks with self-imposed, tight deadlines. I break projects into smaller chunks and set clear time limits for each. By doing this, I essentially trick my brain into entering a focused mode, reducing procrastination.


Parkinson's Law, once understood and embraced, can be a game-changer. It challenges our perception of time and productivity, pushing us to work smarter, not harder. So next time you're allocating two hours for a task, ask yourself: Can it be done in one?

Your Actionables:

  1. Identify a task today and halve the time you'd typically allocate for it. Dive in and see the results. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in less time.
  2. Set intentional, tighter deadlines for bigger projects this week. Notice the shift in focus?
  3. Reflect on past experiences where Parkinson's Law might've unknowingly been at play. Learn and adapt.

Until next time,


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Last Update: October 29, 2023