In marketing, as in comedy, timing is everything. But few of us are able to find that sweet spot where each joke lands perfectly. Parkinson’s Law tells us that whatever your project, the time it takes to get it done is however long you have to get it done. In other words, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If you give a classroom full of kids one month to finish a report, it will take precisely one month. If you give them two days, it will take two days. And if you give them no deadline at all… it will never be finished. That’s the way the world works.
How Do You Know When It’s Ready?
Is it how you work? This law can prove quite a dilemma for start-ups and small business owners, just as it does for artists. When our only deadline is self-dictated, how do we decide when a project is “done?”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, the great American author who gave us one of the most poignant and insightful looks at the American Dream, was famous for his perpetual edits. As long as he had a manuscript in his hand, he would continue to rewrite, eliminate, re-think, and proof.
On one hand, this made him the amazing artist that he was. But on the other hand, without a hard-as-nails publisher breathing down his neck with a deadline, we wouldn’t have classics like Tender is the Night, or The Great Gatsby.
Don’t Miss Your Moment
Of course, if you’re someone who cares about your company and your product, you want to keep refining and tweaking it. You want it to be the best that it can be. But here’s the catch: it will never be perfect! You’ll always want to make changes.
The great dilemma of business and marketing in our modern era, however, is that even a week of hesitation can make you miss the wave that could propel your business into stardom. Times move fast. Needs change quickly. And if you don’t provide a much-needed service at the right moment, someone else will.
The take-home lesson? Do it now. That idea that’s been simmering on your backburner, that idea that you’ve discussed with your friend a million times, but never taken action on, that dream that you’ve subconsciously nurtured from a seedling to a tree… do it now. Set a deadline, and meet it. Don’t be paralyzed by the search for perfection.
Spend Your Whole Life Growing and Changing
One of the greatest mistakes we make is thinking that once we put our stamp on something – once we sell it, buy it, publish it, or tweet it… that’s it. That’s all we are now, and we’re not free to grow and change. Well, once you’ve pulled the trigger on your project, feel free to continue refining it. Take heart from Emerson’s words:
“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”