Parkinson’s Law and Uncontrollable Stuff
Parkinson’s Law sounds super fancy, like something econ professors make you memorize. Not really. It wasÂ part of the first line ofÂ a comic essay * written in 1955 for “The Economist”.
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Basically, the stuff you’ve got will fill up the place you’ve got for it, however big or little that space gets.
This definitely is true for work and the time you have to do it in. But I think it works for everything.Â Computer space. Books. Clothes. Food.
This is the ugly truth, and it’s why organization projects tail off into failure so often. If you sort and purge and install lovely new containers and systems, you’re going to start off with sparkling clean bare shelves and cubbies and spaces… but the problem is, they’re going to fill up, like magic, all by themselves, unless you’re absolutely ruthless.
So how do you control the spread of Uncontrollable Stuff?
- I likeÂ the one-in, one-out rule: for every new item you bring in, you have to remove one. It’s especially good for closets. Particularly for those of us with shoe… er, dependencies.
- I also useÂ the 30-day rule. If it’s not absolutely mandatory (i.e., not milk, not the tool you need to finish the project today), put it on a wish list and leave it there for a few weeks. If you still think it’s worth buying in a month, go for it.
What do you do when you feel Parkinson’s Law taking over your life?
* I know, it’s not exactly Showtime at the Apollo, but it’s economic humor; what do you want?