26 March 2011 in

Hold the freakin' phone! What?

MARCH 26, 2011

So! Today is magnificent not only because it’s Saturday, oh no, it’s also magnificent because I can officially shed the shameful name of procrastinator! Totally awesome, I KNOW!
I have to thank Prof. Cyril Northcote Parkinson who in 1955 made an interesting observation in his article printed in The Economist. His observation has been coined Parkinson’s Law, which states that – work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
What does that mean exactly? Well, in its simplest form it follows the “work smarter, not harder” mentality. Believe me I have become familiar with this rule some time ago. Don’t get me wrong there is merit in hard work, but if you can achieve the same results in less amount of time, it’s a no brainer.
What Parkinson proposed is the more time you allow a task, the more daunting it becomes, and takes up the full amount of time allotted.  In most cases the time needed to complete the task is overestimated. It follows that allowing the “bare minimum” amount of time for the task actually forces the brain to focus on the most important aspects, allowing the job to get done quicker.
Therefore it turns out I’m actually not a procrastinator; I am just the proof to Parkinson’s Law. Meaning, I’m pretty good at assessing the actual amount of time something is going to take based on my aptitude and the quality of work I know I can produce.
For example, early in my academic “career” I started papers about a week before they were due. It didn’t take me long to realize that the bulk of my work was erased and re-written throughout that week. The parts that actually made it through my editing process were the parts written the night before the due date. Naturally I began omitting the week long editing process more frequently and started to write my papers one to two days before they were due.
In all honesty it has not worked every time, that’s because there is a difference between the “bare minimum” amount of time to complete something well and “not enough time” which can result in low quality work. Throughout the years there have been a couple of papers which I could have done better on, if I had an additional few hours; for the most part though, my grades maintained above average, which further reinforced my tactics.
I have to admit it makes me pretty happy to be able to make this distinction, I’m not a procrastinator; I’m efficient! OH YEA, do a little dance!
Thanks Professor Parkinson! Yours is one original thought I definitely find worthwhile.
the outspoken introvert

13 Comments So Far:

  1. Wow! I guess I'm efficient too! That's awesome! :)

  2. Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou! I have been needing one of these for YEARS. I think I'm going to print this off and put it up in various locations in my home, so everyone has one!
    Following you from FTLOB. :)

  3. Makes you feel a little better about your "I'll get around to it" ways hey!?

    Like I said I was aware of the work smarter not harder mentality, but until a couple of days ago I was unaware there is an actual "Law" surrounding this phenomenon. I'm a little upset I didn't discover it sooner, my psyche would have taken less beatings of self inflicted guilt throughout the years.

    @ Vedette - welcome and thanks for the support :)

  4. Procrastination! Cheers to the few people who have the nerves to live for today and not worry too much about what tomorrow brings. In the end everything works out anyways. With that being said though, when something truly inspiring comes along even the most astute procrastinator becomes an avid worker who starts projects too early to call themselves procrastinators.... Perhaps there is a middle way?

  5. I love your comment, you are absolutely right! I mainly procrastinate on things I'm dreading, I think that's pretty standard. When I'm excited about something it's a totally different story :)

  6. I'm holding onto my 'round tuit'. Saving it for those tasks I have absolutely no interest in doing! Lovely!

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