how to write faster

Use Parkinson’s Law to create content at double speed

leonie waldron
Leonie Waldron
Head Strategist


  • Parkinson’s Law states that ‘work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion’.
  • Traditional deadlines cause procrastination, trade-offs and distraction.
  • Creating constrained timelines over shorter time periods will help you get work done faster.
  • Two tools to try are ‘work with me’ videos on YouTube or a Pomodoro Timer.

Our limited capacity for productivity – and what you can do about it

In general, humans have a finite capacity for attention, fatigue, and memory. And procrastination is a significant force to be reckoned with, especially when faced with writing blog posts for your business.

Since we have limited mental bandwidth, we subdivide it randomly in the way we see best in our daily lives. We often work on a task that might have a deadline of next week, but we’ll attack it in bits – do some today, a little tomorrow, and maybe finish it on Friday if we get time.

However, Parkinson’s Law says that if you allocate a specific amount of time to a task, that’s how long you’ll take to complete it – no matter what it is. Sounds unrealistic? I’ve been using Parkinson’s Law (and the accompanying Pomodoro technique) to get work done faster for years.

So how can you use Parkinson’s Law to manage time more effectively and become more productive?

Let’s dive in.

minimalist freelance copywriting workspace

What is Parkinson’s Law?

According to Parkinson’s Law of time, work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

In other words, if you have a blog post to write, for instance, how long you’ll take to finish it will depend on the amount of time you have. If you have more time, it will take you longer to complete. If you’ve only got an hour, it will take you an hour.

Without adding the constraint of time, you’ll most likely take too long doing research, procrastinating, and looking for unrelated problems or opportunities. You’ll find yourself doing anything else other than the task at hand.

Where did Parkinson’s Law come from?

In 1955, a historian from Britain called Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote a satirical essay for The Economist. He wrote the article according to his experience with the British civil service.

The essay started by saying, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” It talks about a woman who had one task that day – sending a postcard.

Since she had a whole day to finish the task, she did many other things until the day was complete. She starts by looking for the card for one hour, and then spends another half hour looking for her glasses and one and half hours writing the card.

This story aims to explain how work expands to occupy the allocated time. So if a task must get completed in one year, it will take one year to get it done. If it must conclude by next week, it will be complete by next week.

We make our plans depending on the amount of time we have. As the deadline nears, we start making trade-offs and choices. We try to finish the tasks that need to get out of the way for us to complete the work on or ahead of the deadline.

This constant deal-making with ourselves can be exhausting and a terrible time waster. If we had just committed to a set period of focus, the task would be done by now, boosting productivity and helping us deliver work faster.

How to write a blog post using Parkinson’s Law

If you stop allowing your work to expand to occupy the available time in your day, you can complete your tasks faster, leaving time to handle other tasks or focus on deep work.

According to Parkinson’s Law, if you allocate four hours to create something like an article or blog post, it will take you four hours to finish it.

However, the same law means that you’ll finish within two hours if you allocate only two hours to create the same thing.

Give it a try and attempt writing something in half the time you think it will take you. If you get serious and set a countdown timer and work like your life depends on it, you’ll finish the task!

Here are some great tools to try to help you on your mission to become more productive:

  • Work with me videos – there are many videos on YouTube that allow you to virtually work next to someone, providing a subtle encouragement to remain in work mode. Especially effective for remote workers and anyone who prefers working with others nearby, these videos are really helpful to keep you focused and on track. They generally feature quiet music and the presence of a real person, working or studying in real time.


  • Tomato Timer – the pomodoro method is a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo, designed to be a more productive way to work and study. The idea is to commit to working solidly on the task, set a Pomodoro (timer) for 25 minutes, work on the task until the timer expires, then take a 5 minute break. Take a look at Tomato Timer.
  • Toggl – Use a free time tracking app like Toggl to see how long tasks actually take you. Although this is not a technique for setting an actual timer, it can be enlightening to use a time tracker for just a week or so of regular work, to see just where your time is going. I use Toggl religiously for every single part of my work day. Part of this is to ensure I meet workload obligations for clients, but it also allows me to see exactly how much I’m working in the business vs on the business, which days I am more active or productive, and how many clocked hours vs billable hours I work.
industrial clock

Getting work done with Parkinson’s Law

Even if you don’t get a final article written using the above tools, it’s most likely that you’ve got further than you would have if you had not set an external time limit. You’ll have a draft blog post that you can now tweak and build on, and it’s always much easier to edit an existing draft than start with a blank page.

When there’s no time limit involved, developing new ideas is more challenging. If you set constraints or boundaries, you’ll have no choice but to keep the work simple. You’ll have to trust your gut, your abilities and not second-guess your decisions.

Embracing Parkinson’s Law is an excellent way to discover how much more you’re capable of.

Give it a try to help you draft blog posts faster and with less procrastination!

Get help with your content marketing
We're here to help you get your marketing organised - let's work together!
green circle