This is why your tasks take longer than you expected…

Introducing new Business Plus Baby guest blogger Alison Bradford of

Do you ever have a morning when you’re up really early but still late for the school / nursery run? The morning started so well – you were feeling relaxed and in control and then before you knew it there’s a last minute dash to get coats and shoes on, bags together and out of the door. How did that happen?

Or the other way round and the kids were up late (I wish! doesn’t happen often in my house!) but you still managed to get them fed, washed, dressed and out of the door at the same time?

This is Parkinson’s Law in action – a task will expand to fill the time you allow you for it.

So, roughly translated, if you allow two hours to get ready in the morning it will take two hours. If you allow half an hour it will take half an hour.

It’s like when you have a new baby and you cannot imagine being able to leave the house with both of you dressed before midday. Then you join a baby class that starts at 10am and somehow you manage to get out of the house for 10am. Then you go back to work and (by a miracle some days, I know) you manage to get your baby to nursery for 8am. (I’m not saying it’s not stressful getting out earlier by the way!)

The same principle applies to work tasks too.

When you’re running your own business it can be easy to keep going with a task and not set yourself deadlines.  You don’t have a boss hovering over you wanting that report by 5pm and you can easily start to be busy taking your time over things.

Maybe you want something to be perfect and spend too long trying to get it so.

Maybe it’s something you don’t enjoy doing and keep getting distracted from.

Whatever the reason that means something is taking too long to get done – start setting yourself deadlines for completing tasks.

This may mean that something isn’t perfect (haven’t you heard that good enough is the new perfect?) It may also mean that you need to start making decisions more quickly. Both of these are great habits to get into when running your own business.

If you don’t have enough time to get everything done then you either need to not do some stuff or to start getting stuff done more quickly. By setting deadlines for even the smallest of things you really can start to get things done more quickly – just remember those late mornings when you still make school or nursery on time and think of Parkinson’s Law.


If you want to get more tips, advice and inspiration for being a Mum running a business then visit and sign up for the free newsletter.

Alison works as a Business Coach and Life Coach with Mums who are running a small business from home and want to make more money in their business and have more balance in their life. To find out more please visit

3 Replies to “This is why your tasks take longer than you expected…”

  1. Really great article with a very valid point. I’ve recently started working from home lots more than I used to and have found I fill up my time but haven’t achieved my goals for the day. I really need to be more disciplined and strict with myself starting next week when the children are back at school!

  2. Yes, very much agree! I read somewhere else to work with Power hours, and (on a good day) this really works for me. So just allocate 1 hour on each task (or type of task like responding to all your e-mails) for the day. The focus of knowing you only have one hour really works. You can tell I haven’t done that today as I am being distracted and chatting on here, rather than focussing on my 1-hour task…

    1. Ha ha! Yes, I do power hours too. In fact a couple of months ago I decided to try to make all my working hours ‘power hours’ because I just have so little time to work at the moment. Whenever I get time to work, I ask myself “OK, how can I get the absolute maximum out of this hour?” or half hour or whatever. I turn it into a game or a challenge for myself. And it seems to be working pretty well, actually.

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