Parkinson’s law is a very interesting life law. It is best expressed in two ways, both of which we will explore; in time and expenses. So powerful is this law that it is very difficult to escape it. Difficult but not impossible. That’s our subject today, ways to fight Parkinson’s law. We will look at it both ways, in time and money management. As you’ve come to expect these tips will be practical and experience-based.

Parkinson’s law in time

Simply put Parkinson’s law states that things will expand to take up all the space that is allocated to them. When we apply this to time we say a task or job expands to fill the amount of time allocated for it. So if you were given 6 weeks to complete a task it would take 6 weeks. Yet if you were given the same task to complete in two weeks there’s a very good chance you could complete it in two weeks. Of course, it doesn’t just end there. If we look deeper into it we will find that the bulk of the work itself may be done in the final two days whether it was allocated 2 weeks or 6 weeks. So the second thing we learn from Parkinson’s law in time is that we generally work to deadlines.

Parkinson’s law in money

Parkinson’s law can also be expressed in money and personal finances. It is the same law but the perspective is a little different. Expenses will always rise to meet income. That’s it in essence, what does it mean? Well, no amount of money is ever too much and any income increases will be met by an at least commensurate increment in expenses. So to put it in simple terms one who earns $500 may feel that if they had an income of $1000 they would have enough to save but the reality tends to be that if they increase income to $1000 they will also increase expenses and still have nothing left to save. This is especially true within a range.

Set clear limits

So the first tip for fighting Parkinson’s law is to become very clear about what you want to do. If it is saving money then it is best to get clear about the amount you want to save. Rather than using the mentality of saving what remains you should instead have a savings target and spend what remains. This can be achieved either through setting a savings target amount, a target percentage or a variable savings rate. The same goes when it comes to time, get clear about how long the task takes you. This is easier done when you know how long the task takes you. The point is not to allocate too much time to the task.

Set and keep to standards

The second tip I can give for beating Parkinson’s law is to set and keep to standards for yourself. If a task, job or project, whichever basis you work on, takes a certain amount of time then stick to it. By setting standards for yourself you give yourself the best chance of sticking to them. Please note that this is for your scheduling process and shouldn’t be used for reporting turnaround times to your clients or superiors unless you are certain you will be single handling the task. When it comes to your finances you should establish such a thing as enough. So instead of letting expenses continue to rise just because income is up, there should be a limit or level at which enough is enough for certain things.


The final tip is to learn to prioritise. First of all the prioritising has to do with Parkinson’s law in money. About keeping standards you really should also develop a priority to know what comes first. See many times expenses rise because we spend our money on needs before wants. Spending money on a night out before paying your internet bill (or buying data) feels good but internet connectivity is a necessity and sooner or later the bill will come due. The same goes for time, the reality is we take the full allotted time to complete a task mostly because we fill the time with busy work, distractions and procrastination activities. Putting first things first helps us beat Parkinson’s law but I will tell you for free that it takes more than prioritising, it takes commitment.

How familiar are you with Parkinson’s law? Do you know any other tips that can help in the fight against it?