Work Expands to Fill Time Allocated for It

Did you know that smart people have studied the idea of time and work to come up with a law that you should know about? It’s called…

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Connie Ragen Green — Work Expands to Fill Time Allocated For It

How Work Expands to Fill the Time You Allocate for It — What You Need to Know About Time

You may already know that smart people have studied the idea of time and work and have come up with a law they want you to know about. It’s called Parkinson’s Law and essentially states: “…Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Now, sure, some things do take a specific amount of time. You’re not going to bake a cake in less time than it takes, but much of our work has arbitrary time limits and deadlines that you can work with to become much more productive.

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If you’ve ever been accused of procrastination, it might be due to this law, along with creating too long deadlines. Another problem is not understanding in advance what done actually means. You must know how to set clear time boundaries for yourself and for anyone you outsource to. You can challenge yourself and your team by creating incentives built into the calendar to finish projects early. To set up your processes right, you always need to know what happens first, what happens next, and what happens last — plus, what constitutes “done” for any one project.

Break Down Your Tasks into Chunks

When you have a deliverable due on a specific date, make sure you break down that project into smaller chunks that you schedule to work on from today until the due date. By making smaller chunks with their own deadlines, you will avoid waiting until the last moment, which can cause bottlenecks and a feeling of always working.

Don’t Pretend to Multitask

The worst thing society has ever tried to make a thing is multitasking. No one can do it, but many people claim to be able to since it’s often seen as a positive. The truth is, studies show it’s impossible, and even when we think we are multitasking, we’re spending about 30 percent more time than we need on tasks due to the divided attention.

Describe What Done Means for Each Project

One issue with not getting done with things is that many times, you don’t know what done is. Define and describe for each task that you chunk down what constitutes done. Describe and define what the finished product should look like, too. That way, you have a real stopping point.

Set Clear Boundaries Around Your Time

Often, when people work from home on the internet, they tend to forget the time boundaries they’d have if they went to a job. At a job, you’re not surfing online, messing around on Facebook, and playing Words with Friends. This is not work. Set up your calendar to support the things you like to do but remember to fully engage in the elements rather than dividing your time or trying to convince yourself you are working when you’re actually playing. It’s okay to play. Just schedule it in.

I have a friend who is a corporate consultant who uses the phrase “protecting time.” When he is with people and knows he has a project to work on or a call with a client coming up, he will tell them he must “protect the time” between two and four that afternoon, for example. Everyone understands and appreciates the time he has for them.

Create Incentives for Finishing Early

If you’ve blocked four hours today to write two new or repurposed blog posts, give yourself some incentive to finish early. If you finish before the four hours is up, instead of moving on to the rest of the work you planned for the day, take that extra time and do something for yourself. Self-care is crucial to your success and improves your mental outlook. Even though work expands to fill time allocated, rewarding yourself makes sense.

Know What’s First, Next, and Last

The biggest key to remember here is to know what is first, next, and last when you are doing any project. This means that you must write down what everything is supposed to look like as a finished product. For example, if you are writing blog posts today, what does a completed blog post look like and include? Make a checklist to keep you on track for anything you’re working on, so you know when it’s done and what’s next, in terms of syndicating your content to the world.

The main thing is to understand who you are and how you work best. Once you know how to set better deadlines for yourself, you’ll get more done in less time. Not only that, once you manage a team, you’ll be able to plan a project so that it gets done promptly — no matter how many people are working together to make it happen.

This article was originally published on my site at

I’m bestselling author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability. I’m here to serve you!

Online marketing strategist, author, speaker, and publisher working with entrepreneurs on six continents.

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