Parkinson’s Law and some strategies to deal with it

Writing a blog post a day has not been easy and I have technically already failed (since it is past 12). And so this is just a continuation of a post from two days ago where I spoke about how I submitted assignments on time for the first time.

Parkinson’s Law is essentially a theory that work expands to fill up the time we allocate to it. In other words, whatever time we allocate for a work, we will end up using all that time to do it. For example, if I tell myself I have one week to finish this assignment, I will use up all that one week. However, if I have to submit the assignment by tonight, I would somehow finish it by the night.

I’m sure many of you might have experienced this especially when it comes to assignments. You find yourself being able to finish work super fast when you don’t have time. But when there is a lot of time you do the work slowly. A common response among College students to experiencing the Parkinson’s Law is to tell ourselves I will do the work at the last minute because I’ll do it faster. But this isn’t the right response.

Leveraging Artificial deadlines

One of the ways of dealing with the Parkinson’s Law is to set yourself artificial deadlines. Set yourself deadlines much before the actual deadline. While sometimes it doesn’t work, you can eventually train yourself or rather habituate yourself to stick to the deadlines you set yourself.

To make it more effective you could try out some other external motivators. Plan a meet up with your friends or a trip somewhere after the day of the artificial deadline so that you are motivated to finish it within then. Another suggestion could be to use accountability partners who’d check up on you.


Another way to deal with the Parkinson’s Law is to use time-blocking. This is similar to using artificial deadlines. But here you are going one step further by setting apart time when you want to finish the work. If you set one hour aside for the work, you would plan to do the work within that one hour.

I have only recently been trying both these methods. I cannot say with certainty that I have successfully implemented them. But they have brought me some benefits for the little that I have used them. But the very act of putting out my plans to continue to use them in the future in the blog here is a form of public accountability, which I hope would help me!

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