In these days of modified house arrest, you may be wondering why so little gets done. It seems one’s To-Do list gets longer by the day, with few items checked off.
Well, C. Northcote Parkinson offered a succinct explanation in the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of Parkinson’s Law and Other Studies in Administration (1957).
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. General recognition of this fact is shown in the proverbial phrase ‘It is the busiest man who has time to spare.’
“Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis [London]. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half an hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the mailbox in the next street.
“The total effort that would occupy a busy man for three minutes, all told, may, in this fashion, leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.”