top of page

2 Simple Ways to Build Fast Action into Your Tasks

Picture yourself taking a car ride.  Sometimes, you want to take a Sunday trip and take the most scenic route possible to admire the sights along the way. Most of the time, though, you just want to get where you are going as quickly and efficiently as possible. I think most of our tasks are similar. We end up taking the scenic route on the simplest things or when we let overwhelm or more interesting items get in the way.

The British historian, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, penned an essay with this opening line: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This brilliant line is known as Parkinson's Law that has proved itself many times in my life. If I have a week to complete a project, it takes a week. If I have 5 minutes to complete a task, it usually takes 5 minutes.

Let's look at two ways to complete the common household task of folding towels:

In this towel folding example, version 1 took 4 times as much time as version 2. Both versions got the task accomplished. Fast action helps you move quickly through tasks. There will be some tasks that need a lot of thought and prep. Most tasks, however, can be completed quickly. Through much of my life, version 1 felt like my version, especially when it came to tasks I didn't enjoy. I learned to add a little bit of urgency to these tasks that I used to wade through.