We are doing some remodeling work in our office space and as the cubicles were dismantled to prepare for re-carpeting, I pointed out the circles in the old carpet where the office chairs wore out the fibers from turning around as people were working at their desks. My co-worker (who has an awesome dry sense of humor by the way) immediately responded with “we just go around and around in circles…” and I broke out laughing and knew that I had to take a picture for a future blog post. Little did I know that I would be using this image so soon after taking it.
For the past three days, I have felt like I am barely accomplishing anything… I am struggling to be focused on what I would like to get done and I feel like I am just going around in circles… just not getting anywhere. I have spent so much time the past several months juggling many commitments: my responsibilities as a leader in my corporate life, working with my clients in my coaching business, attempting to be consistent in posting my blogs (my blog guru Michael Hyatt recommends consistency over frequency), volunteering at the grief camp a few weekends ago, and leading the charge for the fundraising event that we held this past weekend.
I was going on fumes but I was engaged… the more I had to do, the more I got done… hmm… feels like an AHA moment coming on…
Why is it that the more we have to do, the more we can fit in the time available? Or to look at it conversely, why is it that the more time we have available, we seem to fill it up even though we do not have as much to do? Parkinson’s Law (named after C. Northcote Parkinson in 1955) is the concept that the work will expand to fill the time available. As our workload decreases, we find ways to fill the excess time available to the point that we begin believing that the work which once took a portion of the time has grown to require all the time we have available. I have more free time available than what I have had in the past few months, yet my time seems to be flying by even though I have less activity that I am working on. I have become inefficient, less focused… and yes, spinning around in circles.
I clearly need to get my game on or I will unconsciously use up my valuable time and lose the momentum that I have ridden on for several months… so what is the best way to get back on track? A couple of things come to mind:
- Create some deadlines for the activities I want to get done. Deadlines create an urgency mentality which helps cut through inefficiencies.
- Add in some new goals. Goals and actions plans are fluid and as we successfully carry out our goals, new ones are needed to continue to keep us moving forward… learning… growing… developing.
AHA moment two: By completing this blog post, I think I got a bit focused… imagine that!
What are some other things we can do to overcome Parkinson’s Law?