Parkinson’s Law

Human psychology and various inefficiencies that we build into our behaviors are fascinating. Here is one that I have come across recently that resonated on many levels: Parkinson’s Law

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

An interesting variation of this law is: the complexity of a solution to a problem increases to fit our initial assumption about how complicated the solution should be. I can recall many times feeling very uneasy and uncomfortable the moment somebody emphasizes the complexity of a task being worked on as opposed to breaking the task down to simplify it. Most likely the anguish is from knowing that such behavior leads to things being made complicated without having it to be that way. High complexity means unnecessary work and wasted time, two things that should always be avoided.

The next time a problem statement comes along, I will keep Parkinson’s Law in mind. Instead of hailing the complexity of a task, we should focus on understanding the problem by breaking it up into small pieces and simplify each part of the solution. If a job sounds complicated, we haven’t thought about it long enough to simplify it and break it up.

Other lessons to be learned from Parkinson’s Law:

  • If a task is perceived to be unimportant, it will take longer to complete. Make sure that the “why” behind a task is understood and emphasized.
  • If you change nothing about the task itself and instead change your attitude and perception on how complicated you deem the task to be, you will increase your chances of not only completing a task but will end up doing it sooner, and in a simpler and efficient fashion.

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