INVESTORS’ CORNER: Parkinson’s Law: Time allotted equals time used :: Metrolina REIA

I have known about Parkinson’s Law long before I studied it.  In college I always had too much on my plate between a grueling football schedule and difficult classes. Yet, I almost always achieved my best grades during the busiest times, like football seasons.

Focused, intense attention for a short period of time often trumps extended, lazy attention over a long period of time.

How do you use this law in your life and business?

Use a timer

Set the timer on your watch or phone when you do an activity.  Give yourself a set amount of time to finish, and push yourself to get it done during that time.

Batch similar activities together

Don’t check email or make calls constantly throughout the day.  Do it once or twice per day, and limit how much time you have to complete it.

Eliminate distractions, interruptions

If you’re working on something important, turn off the cell phone, get rid of notifications, close the door, and put a “Do not disturb” sign on it. Decide to focus on one thing and one thing only until it’s complete.

Once you’ve applied some of the practical tips above, I also recommend that you journal on some of these awesome questions that Tim Ferriss offered in the book “The 4 Hour Work-Week” to bring both Parkinson’s Law and the 80:20 Principle home:

*If you had a heart attack and had to work two hours per day, what would you do?

*If you had a gun to your head and had to stop doing four-fifths of different time-consuming activities, what would you remove?

*What are the top three activities that you use to fill your time to feel as though you’ve been productive?

*If this is the only thing you accomplish today, will you be satisfied with your day? I use a variation of this question daily.

*What will happen if you don’t do this? It helps to judge the importance of activities.

Exploring your answers to these kinds of questions can lead to major breakthroughs.  They force you to use your imagination and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

When you ask the questions over and over, your mind will continue to surprise you with insights.  Slowly but surely the answers you come up with will change your relationship to work and to time.

Lou Gimbutis is director of education at the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, which provides education, mentoring, and networking for real estate investing in the Charlotte region. He can be contacted at [email protected]. For more information, visit

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