Time Expansion and Parkinson’s Law

When I set out on my year long challenge to complete 50 things before I turn 50 this August, it felt like I had all the time in the world.

Months and months were ahead of me to space out the 50 challenges.

Then I realised I was falling victim of Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law is the principle that a task or project will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion. Give a task a week, it will take a week. Only have an hour…you can get it done (to a good enough standard) in an hour.

Realising 4 months had already passed (I started the challenge after my 49th birthday on 30 August 2022) and I’d only accomplished 12 things, I gave myself a reality check. Then I planned out roughly when I might do each of the remaining things in the 8 months to my 50th birthday.

Seeing how much time had already passed shocked me a little, and gave me the impetus to take action. 

I’ve now completed 20 challenges with another 8 underway or booked in. There’s also a specific reminder in with my monthly check in to make sure I don’t let time slip again.

Does Parkinson’s Law ring a bell with you?

⭐ Perhaps you’ve got months until your assignment needs handing in, so it’s ok if you don’t do any work on this this week.

⭐ Or you’ve got 4 hours until you pick up the kids, and it takes you all that time to do a task that really only needed 30 minutes.

⭐ Maybe it’s Monday and a difficult report is due in on Friday afternoon, so you distract yourself and waste time on more fun aspects of your job. Then feel the panic as you have to work late on Thursday.

The implications caused by procrastinating or wasting time on unimportant things are complex, but not to be ignored. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed, stress levels are elevated, and your sleep is suffering…but you can’t really point to one cause. 

Guilt can creep in when you’re not doing what you need to. You end up wasting energy just thinking about doing the thing, but not taking action (this is something I’ve had to work on). That energy could have been used on the task itself PLUS a whole load of other fun stuff.

Procrastination is such a powerful time stealer, but there are ways to regain control. Read about How to Cure Procrastination in this article.

The client testimonial below 👇 is from a coaching client I’m working with who has been working on overcoming procrastination. I love that she is already seeing positive results from the coaching, taking action, and getting her life ‘untangled’.

Here’s the first post I wrote about my challenges: 50 Things Before I’m 50 Challenge and an update more recently: 50 Things Before I’m 50 Challenge: Update.

We’ve all fallen victim of Parkinson’s Law, it’s part of being human. Please be kind and practice self-compassion if this has struck a chord with you. Being aware is the right point to take action and move beyond the procrastination. If you’d like to share your experiences please do l leave a comment below.

Adopting better habits and thought patterns can help us accomplish far more than we feel is possible. Life coaching conversations can help you make those positive changes. You have the space and time to explore what keeps you stuck, unfulfilled and not living aligned to your values. If this sounds like something you’d like to look into take a look at the Services I offer or get in touch to arrange an initial free and informal chat.

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  1. Pingback: Installing & Cultivating Positive Habits – Lynne Taylor Coaching

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