Nellaiappan’s Column-4: "Work is Elastic"

When a professor asked one section of students to submit an assignment within seven days invariably most of the students submitted the same on the seventh day. The same professor when asked another section of students to submit the same assignment within 10 days, only on the tenth day most of the students submitted it. To be more correct, it was the eleventh hour of the tenth day.

Well, I have seen people reading till the last minute in the corridor of the examination venue. This holds true even for IIT and IAS examinations.

Whenever there was an audit in the factory, till 9 A.M people continue cleaning some thing or the other, rewrite some records, shift an equipment or paint a door.

There is a general principle inherent in all the above examples. Parkinson law states that in a single line. It requires lot of distilled wisdom to state some management concept or principle in few lines in simple language. That’s why they are great.

Long back, I bought “Parkinson’s Law” for just Rs. 5 in a roadside secondhand bookstall. It says, “Work expands so as to fill the time allotted to complete it”. Or, work expands to fill the time available. Or more precisely, “work is elastic”.

Mega serial stories expand to fill the number of episodes allotted by their TV channels. Bonus talks continue till the eve of “ Diwali” or “Pongal” as the case may be. Promises pour in till the eve of elections. Tailors always stitch till the evening of the delivery date and so on.

I can deduce the following from the above.

(1) Only deadlines make things happen.
(2) Allot only the exact time for any work. Never give grace time to any one, expecting perfection or better quality.
(3) Never declare the real deadline to downline and always keep some cushion for last minute fine-tuning.

Why the purse is always near empty while returning home after our purchase spree? Is there a law about this? My wife enquires. Well, “Expenses expand to match the income” is the answer.

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