What Parkinson’s Law Can Teach Us About Growing a Sustainable Business

If you’ve ever had a traditional Thanksgiving or holiday dinner, you’ve probably experienced Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law states that whatever resources you have, you will use up. If you have a small plate, you’ll fill it up. If you have an oversized plate, you’ll fill it up too.

In the first scenario, you probably walk away from the dinner table feeling satisfied. In the other, you’ll definitely walk away feeling bloated and tired.

Parkinson’s Law and Your Business

Parkinson’s Law also applies to your business.

If you have a full day to work on your positioning, you’ll take the full day to do it.

If you only have three hours, you’ll probably accomplish just as much in that shorter period of time.

I’ve had to learn this lesson again and again in my business—especially when it comes to my finances. I discovered that when you have no constraints, you spend whatever you have in your account.

I’m not alone in this. Many freelancers look at whatever’s coming in the door as pure profit. So they spend it all. And later, they’re stressed when they need to pay their taxes or reinvest in their business.

I know what that’s like.

Before I left my full-time job, I put aside a comfortable financial cushion to keep me going while I got my new business on its feet.

Things went well at first. But then I lost my biggest client. A client that represented 50% of my income.

Before that, I spent WAY too much time trying to create a passive income stream on a project that didn’t pan out.

The income wasn’t coming in, and I was depleting my savings at an alarming rate.

I was in a world of hurt.

You Need to Implement Some Controls

I hadn’t yet learned the lesson of paying myself first—and creating constraints to keep spending in check.

Over time, I started to implement some controls. I adopted the “envelope system,” where I allocated pre-set percentages of my income to different categories.

About three years ago, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I integrated Profit First into my methods.

Today, I’ve got a modified Profit First system that works for me. I pay myself first by moving a set percentage of my income into a profit account. I also move set percentages to other accounts to cover taxes and invest back into my business.

And guess what? My family and I manage to live very well on what’s left over.

That’s the truth of Parkinson’s Law. Without constraints, your time (or your spending) will balloon to take over whatever you have.

But put in some constraints and you’ll live just as well. And you’ll rest easy knowing that you won’t be left scrambling should circumstances change.

So if you do anything with your business this year, take a lesson from the Thanksgiving table.

Don’t stuff yourself into a turkey coma. Instead, implement some constraints. And walk away feeling satisfied.



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1. Grab a free copy of my book.

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2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.

3. Work with me privately.

If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.