I’ve struggled with procrastination my whole life. When I was young, I wasn’t called a procrastinator, I was called lazy. I even referred to myself as lazy.
I recently had a realisation that I think all so-called ‘procrastinators’ should have. One that’s changed the way I look at my work and the way I do it, my behaviours and my output.
As it turns out, I’m not a procrastinator in the negative sense of the word, I’m just intuitively more productive than non-procrastinators. I don’t mean for that to sound self-righteous. Let me explain.
In 1955 The Economist published an article written by Cyril Northcote Parkinson about his experience and observations of the British public service.
These observations included that the public service had a tendency to grow, year on year, not in response to there being more and more work to be done, but because of the availability to resources to grow it.
He also noted that bureaucrats liked to create non-essential work for one another and expand their teams so they would be in the company of more allies than enemies.
Welcome to Parkinson’s Law
Parkinson’s observations have come to be known as Parkinson’s Law, which over time and within the productivity realm looks and sounds like this:
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Essentially, this means that demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource. The reverse is never true. No matter which way you look at it or say it, this law gives incredible power to procrastinators.
Are we procrastinators lazy? Or, as I now like to believe, do we just intuitively know that our efforts to complete a task well before its deadline are wasted? That my efforts will be much greater and the time spent on a task will be much longer if I start a task now, compared to if I start it later.
And, that no matter when I start, the task will inevitably get done, but that by starting it later I’m doing it more efficiently.
Please, stop worrying about being a procrastinator. At least just sometimes. If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.