I was so challenged by a concept I encountered in the Creative Collective that I just had to share it. It’s not a theological musing but rather one on productivity. Everyone is familiar with Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. We prepare for a potential Murphy visit in one of two ways: hoping and praying nothing happens or by creating redundancy. But there is another Law I was reminded of in the Collective and that’s Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law is not as widely known but it states that, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the concept: if you give yourself a week to complete a two-hour task then the pressure, stress and tension – if not the actual task – will increase so as to fill that week. I’m a creative. By default, I want more time believing more time equals a better outcome. In some cases that is true but as a ministry manager I don’t always have that luxury. Each week I have lessons to prepare, counseling to undertake and Gatherings to design. Sometimes more time just means more time for other things which eventually means a last minute push to get a needed task done. That’s exactly what Parkinson’s Law suggests.

Though working with the constraints of a reasonable timeline is not always fun, it does make me more productive. Creating a time constraint by assigning the right amount of time actually allows us to gain back more time and thereby break Parkinson’s Law. As I was reminded in the Collective, “Constraints provide the resistance we need to build creative mass. An environment devoid of this resistance would cause creative atrophy.” Time to go break the law. Anyone with me?