The twelve week year, Parkinson’s law, and quantified goals

Recently I was thinking to myself about how I needed to make a point to plan this/next week what I would like to see happen over the next year. Instead of sitting down and staring to plan, I went and started looking for a book in the stacks. What do I mean by the stacks, well, I went to Library Genesis and found a book on time management.

You want to speed things up in your life?

So the basic idea here is that we all have this conception in our brain of what we want to see happen, and a lot of times we don’t take the time to sit down and write it out. Well, as it so happens, if you do this, you are like most people.

You might be asking, what’s wrong with just knowing what I want to do and what I have to do and just doing that? Well, nothing really… Except that, according to this study you are 20% more likely to achieve your desired results when you write what you want to accomplish down vs just thinking about them. A 20% increase in success is no big deal, I guess. I mean, if you want to achieve results, you can just wish that you’ll do what you need to.

But let’s say that you take the time to actually write down what you want to see happen for your life, i.e. you want to lose weight, get fit, become wealthy, go to the moon, what ever it is. And lets say that you make deadlines for your self, i.e. my fifteen year goal is to go to the moon. Okay, and let’s say that you break down that goal into a 10 year epic, and a 5 year journey, and your 3 year vision. Are you following me:

  • 15 year goal
  • 10 year epic
  • 5 year journey
  • 3 year vision

Now, what if I asked you to take some of the objectives from your 3 year vision and I asked you to have 1-3 items completed by the end of the year. Could you do it? Of course you could, and you know that you could. But let’s say that we get to the end of the following year and you didn’t get that big objective done. Would you have excuses? Oh yeah.

Why would you have excuses? You knew that your big goal of going to the moon required getting this one thing done this year, why didn’t you get it done, or put if off till the last second making a poor effort towards it?

If your answer isn’t anything other than ‘because stuff got in the way’, you have got bigger problems that are beyond the scope of this book. Do you want to know how I know that stuff got in the way? Well, it is because of a little known law called Parkinson’s Law. What this law says is that a task expands in scope according to the time that is allotted it. So if you give your self a year to get something done, you will have an entire year go by before you get it done (if at all).

But what if we made a change in our definition to what a year is for the time being? What if we decided that instead of 12 months, we are going to use 12 weeks as our arbitrary line in the sand to get something done? You would have less time to allow for stuff to get in the way. You would, wouldn’t you?

So the premise of this book is redefining what your time horizons. It is quite clear that using annualized thinking gets us trapped in thinking that we have more time, enough time, plenty of time. But what ends up happening is that we aren’t taking the time to say no to what isn’t getting us closer to the moon.

I strongly encourage you to take the time to read this book, regardless of where you are in the world or what time of year it is. You have the ability to draw a line in the sand at any point in your life and say that you are going to make things different. So what’s stopping you from doing that today?

1 thought on “The twelve week year, Parkinson’s law, and quantified goals

  1. Pingback: The 4-hour Workweek Series: How to Eliminate Information and Interruption Overload – Alixander Court

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