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STRONGER TOGETHER: Life is a juggling act – use Parkinson’s Law to prioritise

Last updated: 12/09/2022
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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Parkinson's Law and tips for how to prioritise.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Life can sometimes feel like a juggling act, where you are juggling so many balls (think of each like different roles you have in your life) and not wanting any of them to fall. The reality is instead of reducing the balls we’re juggling; we keep adding another one in - eventually something’s going to give. 

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Juggling everything is an art which requires incredible skill, energy and determination. Maintaining high productivity while juggling all those balls can however become overwhelming, resulting in burnout, stress, and anxiety. The best advice might be to remove some of the balls, but many of us are reluctant to do so.

We therefore need a Plan B – a strategy to keep those balls in the air while prioritising deadlines, remaining productive, inspired, and maintaining our wellbeing. Enter Parkinson’s Law, the secret weapon to help us prioritise work, life, family, social, health and other interests.

Parkinson’s Law suggests the amount of work expands to fill the time available for its completion; if you give too much time to a simple task it’ll get harder. Thus, by giving appropriate deadlines and prioritization we use our time more efficiently with greater effort.

So, how do you prioritise?

First up, brain dump. Get everything out of your head and onto a list (or two). 

This first list is uncensored and contains whatever comes out.

For the next list, create five columns, titled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The numbers might refer to months, six-month periods, or years. You decide what’s relevant to you. Then work out which things on your list have an actual deadline. Allocate each of those activities to one of the columns, and then assign appropriate deadlines to the other things on your list and pop them into a column.

Once you have finished assigning tasks to columns, focus only on items from column 1. That’s it. Focus your energy and effort on getting through those things on the list as quickly as possible.

You decide how long it will take you to work through your list and move onto the next. You decide what you wish to continue juggling and which balls you want to remove.

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