Parkinson’s Law

Time ManagementHave you ever noticed that if you have a week to do something, you’ll often take that much time to get it done? Yet, if you only have three days, you’ll find a way to finish it sooner?

This is known as Parkinson’s Law, which states:

      “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

This is attributed to Cyril Northcote Parkinson in an article published in The Economist in 1955. Parkinson’s Law means that time pressure pushes you to complete a task in the given time. If there is no deadline attached to a task then it will take much longer for you to complete a work assignment. Therefore, the key to any effective time management system is to set mini-work deadlines for each client assignment, work to that deadline…and even beat it!

For example, don’t busy days feel more productive than slow days? Aren’t you incredibly productive the day before you leave for a planned vacation? Of course, because we all know that we have only so many hours to squeeze in everything that must get done that day and we are judicious in the time we allot to completing each task.

So, why not practice law everyday like it’s our last day before vacation? The Must Do Legal system helps you do just that – but without the stress associated with leaving for an imminent vacation. Client task deadlines should be set in as short a time as is workable. If you feel you should be able to complete a piece of work within an hour, set that as a goal and work within that deadline. Time pressure helps you feel more focused and you will end up completing more work in the same number of billable hours.

Parkinson’s Law also holds true when you delegate work to others. Always set a deadline when you delegate a piece of legal work to another lawyer or your assistant. For example, you can recommend that only a limited number of set hours be billed and that the work should be returnable by a set date.

There is one other critically important spinoff when you embrace Parkinson’s Law. In today’s economic reality, clients are demanding more affordable and cost effective legal services. If your law firm can deliver high quality work in less time and at lower fees, your will earn more work, more referrals and keep your clients happier.

To download a free e-book that explains the entire Must Do Legal system and to learn more about the optional mobile device app that makes it easy to follow Parkinson’s Law, go to


Jeff Morris

Jeff Morris

Lawyer, Executive Coach, Partner at Edge International, a leading law firm consultant, founder of Must Do Legal – an iPhone/iPad app for lawyers who like time management tools. at Must Do Legal
Jeff Morris
Jeff Morris

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