The problem with Parkinson’s Law

Last week I set aside three days for the final sprint to finish editing my latest book. It had been almost there since before Christmas, and for many reasons, I hadn’t quite reached the end point. But I really had to force myself to sit at my desk and do it!

On Tuesday, a pre-planned lunch and a bit of procrastination (yeah I do it too!) meant I only got an hour done. So that left me with two days to get focused. And I did. I finished it at 4pm on Thursday. But there were many times I could have given up. Having a deadline with my editor was a real motivator, and I simply wanted to get it done.

There’s an adage called Parkinson’s Law.

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

If your deadline is too far away (or you don’t have one), you’ll procrastinate or fill your time with trivial matters before you have to pull out all the stops to get something completed.

And this is an area I often explore with my clients. One recently told me that she gets so much more done when she steals an hour here or 30 minutes there. And when she puts aside a whole day to write, she achieves much less!

When it comes to time, it’s so easy to waste it… Or overestimate what you can achieve… Or let other commitments slide into your writing time…

Managing Parkinson’s Law

So what can you do about all of this? Let me share some tips with you.

1. Create a timeline for your book, rather than having an open-ended timeframe for its completion. You can decide if it’s doable and what needs to happen when. I like to work backwards from the proposed launch date and then look at individual tasks.

2. When you know what’s in each chapter, you can make the most of smaller and larger chunks of time and get some meaningful writing done – so have a plan of what’s in each part of your book.

3. Plan your next few priorities. Book time in your diary. Be realistic. Then stick to it. That’s why having a coach, mentor or buddy can help, as they’ll keep you on track!

4. Get out of your own way! If you have a little voice questioning if you know enough or something similar, then just write. You can always edit later when your ‘confident you’ is present.

5. Work out when you’re most effective. Are you at your best first thing in the morning? Afternoon? Or at night? Do you like shorter timeframes? Long sprints? Or something in between?

And recognise that sometimes you just need to nail your backside to your chair to get it done. Like I did last week…

What do you need to do to make your book happen?

If you would value quality focused time on your book, then I run regular Make It Happen days. It gives you the perfect way of making uninterrupted time to focus on your book, with help on hand if you get stuck or need some feedback, coaching or motivation!

More details of how to join me can be found here

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