Parkinson's law

. 2 min read

So I have this theory that if you want to have a break from work, you need to earn it. This is why I, having booked a hotel room with my partner for our yearly staycation in October, decided to do something massive. Something that I'd been planning to do since last spring. Something that, if executed and shipped in time, would totally earn me a little holiday.

The thing is, there's also this thing called the Parkinson's law according to which work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Which means that no matter how early I decided on the project that would earn me my precious holiday, I'll finish it in the nick of time. So probably next Friday morning, just before leaving for the hotel.

There's two sides to all of this.

On the one hand, beginning the task too early will make you think you'll also finish it well in advance, and thus robbing you of the sense of climax that only comes with finish a project just in time. So starting late sounds about right.

On the other hand, everyone knows that productivity, effectiveness, and skill flourish with pressure, and therefore it's only logical to leave the beginning and the finishing of the task until the very last minute. Because no one wants to produce low quality. No one can feel pride in a product that lacks skill or that was made uneffectively or unproductively.

What's handy is that somehow your brain knows when it's the last possible moment to start, regardless of the size of the project. Say you need to write a 500-word essay - your brain tells you to do it in one sitting, the night before the deadline. Drop 10 lb? A week on the cabbage soup diet should do it.

And if your task is to found a website and write and publish a book, well, you need a month, at least. And your brain alerts you just in time to start grinding - 30 days before the deadline.

...unless, of course, you can't handle pressure, in which case you're pretty much screwed if you don't start right away.