Parkinson’s Law…

A law that describes the productivity and efficiency of a system might as well be the holy grail of most large organizations. Cyril Parkinson, the originator of the Parkinson’s Law, was the first to describe the relationship between the number of employees and the efficiency of a system. He coined this term as a jest – the Royal Navy at that time was diminishing in fighting prowess but strangely enough, its administrative size continued to rise without any apparent increase in the work load. So, being a political analyst as he was, he remarked playfully on the sluggish and inefficient machine of the Admiralty in what later came to be a mathematical and scientific law, the Parkinson’s Law.


According to the Parkinson’s Law, the growth of a large administrative body in terms of the number of people is inevitable regardless of the increase in its capacity or the introduction of a huge stockpile of tasks. As Parkinson’s Law defines it “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”. Because a sufficiently large organization will generate enough work to keep itself busy without accomplishing anything. People usually perceive tasks as more time consuming than they might be, partly because they require more legroom but partly also because they simply are unable to judge the amount of time a task may require. This results in a drop in the overall efficiency of a system. Often while delegating a simple task to a team or large number of people, instead of getting it done faster, the process becomes stagnant simply due to the large number of processes it has to go through. One person’s approach might differ from another person’s on the team, leading to possible conflict and constriction in the flow of work.


Parkinsons law may appear to be a very negative phenomenon but using it aptly may increase your productivity and leave you with more time to relax

  • Set a time limit and stick with it. Often at times we tend to stretch our work unnecessarily to give us more legroom. However by setting a time limit to tasks, you restrict other activities that may hamper your schedule and increase your work efficiency
  • Another good practice is to set realistic goals regularly. Tell yourself that you need to do tasks XYZ by evening. This will create a gap between what you have already accomplished and what you need to achieve. Attaining your goals will also boost your confidence and trust in yourself as an added bonus.
  • Penalize yourself for lazing around or being unfocused. Log out from facebook or any other media website that may distract you. Find yourself an environment that reinforces your productivity and lets you be comfortable as well
  • Don’t approach large tasks as a whole. Break them down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks. This will help you repel lethargy and also let you keep a good check upon your work.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead take short, scheduled breaks to relax and get up to speed.

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