Here’s a reality every agency owner needs to keep in mind. This is how Parkinson’s Law impacts agency work.

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Hey, everybody! Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. This week, I am coming to you from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Quick shoutout to Jack from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who sent me this very cool t-shirt of his favorite minor league team, the TinCaps. So thanks for that, Jack. I appreciate it. This week, I want to talk to you about Parkinson’s law. So there was a historian who discovered that, his name was C. Northcote Parkinson, and he discovered the law that is something we live with every day, which is, “The more amount of time you give a task or a project, magically, the task or project takes that much time to complete.” One of the ways that I think of this law is the vacation law. So, I don’t know about you, but on the day before I go on vacation, I have a to-do list that is this long, and I have a very finite window of time that I need to get it done before I’m going to get on a boat or on a plane or head off with a goat or whatever it may be, right? I have things I’ve got to get done, and I have this tiny little window of time to get it done. And I know you’ve experienced this too. Magically, we get it done. And the way we get it done is because our brains look at the amount of time we have, and by the way this works with a budget too, so, if you thought you had $10,000 and it turns out you only have $3,000, our brain will figure out
how to get the task done or how to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish in the smaller period of time or with the smaller budget. And the way we do that is dependent on the task. So it may be that we cut out distractions. It may be that we trim some of the frills out of a budget. But our brains are wired to behave in alignment with Parkinson’s law, which also means that we have to be really mindful when we schedule projects, when we give clients, how much time we give clients to turn something around to give us back corrections or feedback, how long we give our account service team to put together a plan, or our creatives to put together a concept because, magically, that amount of time is going to be the exact amount of time they need to get the work done. So I think sometimes we are actually too generous when we schedule time. Sometimes our traffic systems are bloated. They have lots of complicated steps for a very simple task. And we need to keep Parkinson’s law in mind at all times and ask ourselves, “Is this a reasonable amount of time to get this task done or is this a reasonable budget to accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish? Or what would happen if I skinny it down 10%, 20%, 30%? Could we still get it done?” And odds are, in many cases, the answer is yes. So, as you are going through your day and as you are scheduling your own tasks and you are scheduling your team’s tasks, keep Parkinson’s law in mind and use it to your advantage rather than to your disadvantage. All right? I’ll be back next week. See you then.

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