Parkinson’s Law: How We Get More Done

Lifestyle Design, Online Business

parkinsons-lawWe wanted to increase our productivity.

So we decided to work less.

Now we take a full two days off every week. (Sometimes, even three…)

It's not that we work full time during the other days in the week. It's just that we don't do any work during our 48 hours offline.

Here's what we did on our first 48 hours offline (in the Galapagos).

Going 48 Hours Offline – Every Week

The idea of going offline for 48 hours might sound simple.

But if you've been running a blog or online business for any amount of time, you know it isn't.

The business will take over the amount of time you allow for it. While you will certainly need more than 4 hours a week (check the book) you don't need to work every day – or even be available every day. Parkinson's Law offers an interesting perspective on this.

Parkinson's Law and Online Business

Parkinson's Law states:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

If you have ever worked on a short deadline, you know this is true. A project with a 2 month deadline will almost always take just that long. Take the same task and shorten the deadline to 2 weeks and you also finish it.

How is this possible? Because of increased focus. Surprisingly, the quality of work is often even better.

Recently, I have had some anxiety – it felt like I was always working and just didn't get a break. This was primarily due to always being available. I wanted to respond to email and blog comments quickly. I felt that I needed to constantly monitor our multiple sites and social networks.

While Pat Flynn's “be everywhere concept is great, the alternative “always be available” is not.

I had made the goal over a year ago, to go offline every Saturday and Sunday. But things kept coming up, so I kept making exceptions. As a family we are very connected. We all blog and we have more social network accounts than I care to count. We send 5 weekly newsletters – one for each of our five blogs. We have mobile devices, laptops, desktops and game systems all online.

And in spite of all of this, we decided to go offline – as a family – for 48 hours each week.


What Does 48 Hours Offline Really Mean?

For us, it means no internet. And no work. We might watch a movie or I'll listen to audio while I exercise. But no work related email, social media or blogging.

By limiting available time for work, we force ourselves to be productive in the time available. It allows me to relax and get away from work during a set period every week. While this isn't the same problem for employees – it affects every business owner I know.

This is not a rule – but a goal. Because we live abroad, we do regularly stay connected with family via email.

My Challenge to You

Go offline for 48 hours this weekend – and commit to a work-free weekend.

As bloggers, we are connected all the time. Sometimes we feel like we need to respond to comments, press inquiries, and social media immediately. But we don't.

Approving and responding to comments once a day is more than enough. Sometimes I approve / respond to comments every 2-3 days. No one gets upset and we still have a solid level of interaction. I am a blogger – not a contract worker. One of the things I love about having our own online business is that we get to call the shots.

We don't have to jump just because someone expects us to. In fact, sometimes we just delete pointless, attack, or imposing requests.

You get to choose how you will spend your time, and your life. This is lifestyle design.

Ask yourself:

  • What would your life be like, if you literally unplugged for 48 consecutive hours every week?
  • If you have a family or significant other – what would that mean for your relationship?
  • If you are single, what would that mean for friendships?

Tell your spouse your plan and see what they say. When I told Dena and Drew what I had planned they were both thrilled. How many times have you had a meal with your family or friends and didn't really know what was going on because you were thinking about work? Or (even worse) maybe you were tapping away on your phone?

How To Go Offline

While there are two options, I recommend #2:

  1. Gradually wean yourself off. This might sound like a good idea but it probably won't work. It isn't hard to go 3 hours offline – we do it frequently during a meal or a long drive. Six hours are pretty easy too – we do that during sleep. You won't see the same benefits if you do it in small chunks of time.
  2. Go cold turkey. This is how I started. I actually went somewhere that I couldn't use the internet. I didn't think about it because I just couldn't use it. We had an amazing time as a family during my first 48 hours. Once you do it once, you'll want to do it again.

Go camping and leave your stuff behind. Rent a cabin or take a cruise. Go away so you are distracted and don't think about work or email or social media.

Imagine waking up one morning and knowing that you don't have to turn on your computer. Just eat breakfast with your family. Read a book or volunteer your time. Don't forget the reason why you started blogging in the first place.

There is a clarity that comes with not being online. I find that I can focus better on what I'm doing when I'm not thinking about what's going on online.

And when you break your 48 hour internet fast you will feel in control and then you'll open an inbox full of activity. When I went back online after our Floreana trip, I had three emails from clients, advising of funds being deposited to our account.

So, why not try 48 hours offline? Life becomes more enjoyable with your priorities in order.

Your Turn

How do you manage your time? Will you try 48 hours offline? I would love to hear in the comments below:


Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Bryan also runs two authority blogs with his wife, Dena: ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorials) and GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel).

7 comments… add one
  • Abigail Feb 6, 2016, 3:14 pm

    Hi Bryan! My husband and I are just in the beginning stages of considering starting a blog for income. Would you mind sharing with us an approximate average of how much time you spent working when you first started the blog? Thank you so much for all your careful research and open advice.

    • Janice Mar 26, 2018, 1:21 pm

      This is really great advice Brian!

  • kully Dec 28, 2014, 12:50 pm

    You have really challenged and inspired me! you are right as a PR agency owner it is incredibly difficult to unplug, but you have now set the challenge and I have genuinely forgotten what life was like pre the smartphone. Thankfully I do have an awesome team, and we are now also expanding as a business so looking for more talent to share the responsibility and grow through the process.

  • Christine Mar 8, 2014, 1:30 am

    What an interesting article! I learned quite a bit surprise media fast I took last month (which is on my site if you’re interested). You can use the time to work, or to reconnect. I like that you bring up 2 methods to try for unplugging, as some people prefer going cold turkey, while others like to gradually wean themselves off of bad habits. That’s been a concept that’s been coming up in discussions recently, so it’s good to figure out which type you are.

  • Rahul Aug 12, 2013, 11:42 am

    I was planning to make some exiting changes in my life. My daily job is really boring but I have sat-Sunday off so I decided to try it. Thanks for nice idea.

  • James Jul 31, 2013, 4:24 pm

    One way I try to make myself efficient is to start the day with the worst possible task for that day. Eat that frog principle.

    I like the book and I found out that by applying some few and easy tweaks you can increase your productivity crazy.


  • Dave Jul 27, 2013, 2:10 pm


    I’m impressed with what you’ve done so far.


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