A deadline is what makes extraordinary things happen every day. They are critical to achieving any goal. Parkinson’s law is the tendency to prolong working on a task till it’s due. It can make a simple task take up tons of time and effort.
For example, if you want to finish a task in one week, then that’s how long it’ll take to complete.
Of course, you have a week until the due date, so why not do something entertaining now? You’ve got plenty of time to work on that later.
Parkinson’s law causes people to spend hours fine-tuning minuscule details. But if it were almost due, they’d get it done much faster.
Therefore, this phenomenon makes things more time-consuming, and more complicated than they should be.
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
— Napoleon Bonaparte
Having a long time until your deadline might seem like a good thing, but it’s a trap. You’ll have to put in more effort for a longer time to get the same result as if you finished it right away.
Have you ever had a project at work or school that wasn’t due for months? Since you had ample time, you didn’t get started for weeks?
Then you end up scrambling in a frenzy to finish everything.
Find out how you can avoid Parkinson’s law by changing your deadline:
1. Write out the steps you need to do to reach the deadline
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Now it’s time to create your plan of attack on this task that steals your time and energy.
Write down each step in the process.
There are a ton of things you can do with the time you’ll save. Maybe you want to declutter your home, get in shape, learn how to invest in stocks, or start a business?
2. How long does it take you to finish each step?
“Doing just a little bit during the time we have available puts you that much further ahead than if you took no action at all.”
— Byron Pulsifer
How long will each activity take? If it’s something, you’ve done before, like write a report for your boss. Write down everything you spent time doing, including breaks and idle time.
Documenting your every move can be hard to do when you’re already busy. So, don’t worry, I got you. I use this free app called RescueTime, and it shows me how much time I spend on different tasks. Then I can go to the dashboard and see everything I did, including where I was wasting time.
That’s beneficial for you to create realistic deadlines for each phase.
3. Create an ambitious deadline
“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.”
— Mason Cooley
It’s incredibly valuable to have a target date for goals.
If you don’t have an actual time limit to finish your task, it might never happen. For instance, if you’re an entrepreneur, you won’t have a boss to pressure you to complete the job.
Or perhaps it’s a personal goal you’d like to accomplish. Either way, choose an ambitious (but reasonable) deadline and set a timer.
You might surprise yourself with how much you can get done when you feel a sense of urgency. What’s even better is it can trigger the flow state so you can get in the zone, and your performance skyrockets.
Furthermore, it eliminates perfectionism because you won’t have time to tinker with all the details.
4. Don’t forget to take breaks
“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”
— Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby
It’s paramount that you take breaks from your work often to stay energized and focused. But during your break, try to avoid watching your favorite TV show or playing a game. It’s so easy to get sucked in and waste hours when you’re trying to do some awesome things.
Taking a walk is probably one of the best ways to take a break. You’ll be in nature, getting some sun and some exercise.
But The Atlantic says that you can have “perfect productivity” if you work for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break and repeat.
5. Take your new deadline seriously
“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.”
— George Claude Lorimer
Resist any temptations to put it off for another day because you know it isn’t really due at that time. That will defeat the whole purpose. Imagine that you’ll get fired if you’re not done by your deadline. That should spark some action!
6. Get organized and prepared
“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”
— Ivan Turgenev
Make things easier on you by clearing off your desk except for the items you’ll need for the task. Also, you’ll save a ton of time by not digging through everything to find what you need.
Furthermore, you won’t have the added stress of working in clutter.
7. Use reminders and timers
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
— William James
If you slip into the flow state, then keeping track of time doesn’t exist. This state of mind is when your activity absorbs you. Time, space, problems, and even you will seem to vanish. Hours and hours can slip by without you even realizing it.
So, set up an alarm or reminder on your phone when it’s time to move on to the next step.
10. Get a friend to check on your progress
“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”
— Gene Hayden
Having a friend keep you accountable can help you get things done. You’ve got to choose your deadline and let them know. Have them call you every day or so to see where you’re at with your project. You’ll feel kind of bad if you haven’t worked on it at all.
In short, closer deadlines are vital if you want to get things done.
Write down what you need to accomplish and how long each step will take to complete. Then download a free timer app on your phone and RescueTime on your computer, and you’re set.
Also, don’t forget to subscribe below and share your thoughts about having a deadline in the comments!