I don’t know about you, but no matter what I do, it seems like I always use more time to do something than I should use. This is not a new phenomenon. Actually if you look it up there is actual supposed law for this belief. Called Parkinson’s Law.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson, actually wrote about this law in a humorist essay he published in the British publication, “The Economist” in 1955. Parkinson was actually referencing the fact, and the math to support his belief on how bureaucracies expand over time. Long story short, he was talking primarily about how officials in government seeks to grow subordinates over time, and as they grow the staff, the work increases, but the results do not increase. Because the bureaucracy creates more work for itself. But I digress. Go here and read about it yourself.
In my world, Parkinson’s Law manifests in certain projects that I want to complete. The best example of this I can give is the one I am working on this week. I have to give a keynote presentation next Friday. I have delivered several presentations that are similar to the one I am giving, but I have to change this one up for the audience more than normal. This week has been a light week for me, which has provided me a lot of time to work on this presentation.
I started on Monday, and I am 75% complete. But I should be 100% complete and not have to look at it again until next week. But I know I have until next week to do it. Well, really Monday or so. And because I know this, I haven’t completed it yet.
I have always tried to do whatever I can to get the most out of my time, but I still find myself, like in the above example, using more time than I should.
I recently was listening to a book where the author asked me “How many Wednesdays do you have left in your life?” Well, I had never thought about the question like that before. I never thought about how many Wednesdays an average person lives, or any other day for that matter.
After hearing this question I thought about it, and like most of us would do, and maybe you are doing it now. I started doing some math. The math I will do today is on how many Thursdays I have left, obviously I hope I have more, but lets just play the averages.
I am 39 years old. My dad died when he was 60 (ugh), not sure how that plays in. One of my grandfathers lived until 86 and the other lived until 83. However, this plays in, I don’t know, but it gives me some benchmarks.
So how many Thursdays do I have left?
- If I make it to 60 = Currently week 15 of my 39th year, 1,077 Thursdays left.
- If I make it to the average for males in the United States: 78: 2,013 Thursdays left.
- Average of my two grandfathers 83+86=169/2=84.5, 2,325 Thursdays left.
If you think about life experiences how many times do you really do certain things. For example: How many Super Bowl parties do you really attend. Lets just say you started going to Super Bowl Parties when you were 18. Then you if you just use an average life span, (78), you could have only attended 60 Super Bowl parties throughout your life. It seems like a lot, but when you look at it like this it makes it seem really small in my mind. Not sure how you think about it.
Now that I got you thinking. Well me too. I am trying to create a stronger sense of urgency in everything I do. Look, I consider myself, to be very disciplined, very focused, and very consistent in just about everything I do. But even I have a room for improvement.
This little exercise challenged me to think about how many days I really have to do what I want to do, and need to do. When you are a kid, you think you will live forever. And then as an adult you are too busy to think about living forever. Then you wake up one day and realize you have been out of high school for 20 years.
I have accomplished a lot. I don’t know if it is more or less than I thought I would accomplish, because I never really thought that much about it. However, as I am sitting here today in Naples, Florida where I have lived for the last two years, typing this blog, and now that I think about what it is I am achieving and accomplishing, I can honestly say I have accomplished a lot.
However, I know I am capable of so much more, and you are as well. We just have to quit falling victim to Parkinson’s Law and create the urgency to do whatever it takes to start and finish things quicker.
To your success and your future.