in Psychology

Parkinson’s law on productivity

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available to complete it . Can you think back to the fifth grade when the teacher gave you three months to complete your report? You probably could have done that in a week but instead you waited till the last day and were trying to finish everything on the night before. But if the teacher had given you only three weeks to finish up your report, how long would you take? Three weeks.

The time we allot to our project is usually the maximum amount of time that would take to complete it. Therefore its very important not to assign too much time to a project. If you do, you risk filling it with something less important than the project at hand, and you also lose focus. But that doesn’t mean you assign too less time because you risk not finishing it up at all or even if you do you complete it with less quality. This happens very often especially in software companies where a project manager is supposed to define the milestones based on the deadlines given to him by the stakeholders. A poorly made development plan puts too much pressure on the team when the time given is lesser than it should be, this in turn makes developers to focus less on quality and give priority to just finishing up the task in any way possible. A wise project manager would try to understand the resources in hand and would properly set the milestones without burning out his team. He might consult senior development leads to properly analyze the requirements and break the big project into smaller manageable parts and plan accordingly. The project may need more resources to finish up the work in hand, when the current manpower is not enough to finish things in time with high quality.

To make the best of Parkinson’s law is to have a fixed deadline for every task, no matter how small. Having undefined deadlines will lower the priority of any task and makes you procrastinate or fill up your time with less important work.

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