Hey freelancers, why do your writing projects take you all the way up to the deadline to complete?
It’s because you’re making a key time management mistake: you’re letting yourself fall victim to Parkinson’s Law.
Parkinson’s Law? Huh?
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
—Cyril Northcote Parkinson
This famous quote is the first sentence in an essay that Parkinson, a British historian and author, wrote in a 1955 article for The Economist. It’s been applied to both business and government bureaucracies.
But it also applies to you and your freelance writing. (And many other areas of your life, like household chores)
Here’s How You Beat Parkinson’s Law
Be careful how much time you give yourself to finish a project. If you are like many people, you’ll dilly-dally away the hours writing slowly, procrastinating, and letting myriad distractions draw you away from the task. And you could find yourself actually finishing late. That’s very poor time management.
Time Management: Set Tight Deadlines — And Meet Them
If you’re working on a big project, break it into smaller chunks. Set a time to complete a chunk that you know will require you to work quickly and with complete focus. Then start a timer set for the allotted time and get going. (I use an electronic kitchen timer, but you can use a stopwatch, an electronic watch, or a simple computer program.)
Ramp Up Your Competitive Instinct
See how fast and how well you can get a task done. If it’s a writing project, break it down to a certain number of words in a certain time, and drive yourself to get it done in an even shorter time. You’ll eventually find that you write faster and better and get more done. Just be sure you’re still doing high-quality work.
A Non-Writing Example
I set time deadlines for my strength-training workouts. I go as fast as I can from one exercise to another without allowing myself to rest (although I don’t rush the actual weight sets; it’s important to have perfect posture and movement and timing). This way I get my strength training completed more quickly, and I also turn strength training into an aerobic workout.
Has Parkinson’s Law hurt you in your writing career and your life? Any wisdom to share about how you beat Parkinson’s Law?