• Mason Hancock

Do You Have An A* In Procrastination?

By definition “Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so.” But do you know why we do it and how you can stop it?

The key is Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson's Law is an adage I doubt many of you have stumbled upon before, much like myself until last week. Despite sharing a common name, Parkinson’s Law has nothing to do with Parkinson’s Disease, but instead describes how the duration of task will expand to meet the available time allocated.

Much like a Choranaptyxis from Fantastic Beasts, (Yes I will find a way of fitting Harry Potter trivia into all of my blogs) Parkinson’s Law has the ability to grow or shrink in duration, to fill the available time/ space.

Founded by British naval historian and author Cyril Northcote Parkinson. He stated “it is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Which may explain why many of our European counterparts are reducing working hours. As opposed to common British culture, where working 50+ hours a week is seen as a badge of honour that should be displayed.

But on a less political note, we all have experience of this every single day. Those little jobs that we have to do that in fact only take 20-30 minutes, do instead take all day to complete because we put them off, break them up, procrastinate or try to multitask while doing. (I’m making a rod for my own back here, as i’m sure my partner will read this, but personally this is house work for me.) To dust, hoover and clean the bathrooms when done quickly and efficiently should only take 30 minutes. So why on Sunday when I have any 16 hours to choose from, do I still struggle to “find the time”?

This adage isn’t something plucked out of thin air, it's even on the bbc worklife help page (I know i’ve never heard of it either). But it is, and this can be applied to anything. Yes work and cleaning are two examples but what about exercising, reading or preparing food. Why not set yourself small time frames each day? I need to have X done by 9am, Y done by 1pm, which leaves me 45 minutes for a “quick workout”, and in my opinion the “quick workouts” are some of the best.

What are the disadvantages of this?... well...

Sendhil Mullainathanonce stated “If you’re focusing so heavily on a big project you may at the same time forget to pick up your kid from school, your mom’s birthday, to feed the dog etc… That may be the price you pay for the success you’re achieving with your focus.” Call me naive but I think that's a good price to pay. Besides, setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to pick the kids up, is an easy solution.

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