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This article looks at Parkinson’s much quoted law on getting things done, and considers its central message for educational professionals almost 60 years on, from first being published

We are all familiar, most of us from childhood parental lectures, with the idea that you can only get so much done in a single day, but not all of us were taught an alternative perspective that has been formalised into what is now known as ‘Parkinson’s Law’.

Parkinson’s Law states that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. It is not, of course, a real law of physics; it is a concept proposed rather facetiously by British historian and journalist Cyril Northcote Parkinson (1909-1993) in a 1955 article in the Economist magazine.

Cyril Parkinson’s ‘law’ has endured long after the initial publication of the concept and more recently has been embraced by those working to promote professional effectiveness. Its core message for busy educational professionals is clear: in order to use your time effectively you must carefully allocate a specific amount of time to each task on your list, otherwise these tasks will eat up all the time you throw at them. And this will have negative effects on your personal life too, making it impossible to achieve a life-work balance.
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