It turns out, my friend Christopher Scott was writing a short series on Sabbath at the same time I wrote a blog post on the same topic last week. In a short online conversation, we both agreed that the concept of Sabbath was counter-intuitive.
It is easy to believe taking a day off from work each week can help avoid and overcome burnout, if overwork is a problem. But how can taking a day off from daily responsibilities every week allow us to get more done, not less? Yet, we both experience it and know many others who claim the same results as well.
Is there an explanation?
I believe Parkinson’s Law is at work. What is Parkinson’s Law?
Parkinson’s Law (as it applies to time): Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
It is usually applied in a negative way. For example, work that could be completed in a day will take 3 days if that is the time set aside to do it. But what if it was applied in a more positive way? What if it worked in your favor?
Preparing for a Vacation
You have probably experienced it. Your vacation is scheduled and there is a significant amount of work to get done before you leave. Not only is there the current work, but there is also the work that needs to be done during the time you are away on vacation. At first, it seems like an impossible challenge. What can you do?
You make a list of everything that needs done before you leave and then you prioritize the work, determining what HAS to be done.
Then, you determine the best way to get the work completed (including delegating tasks) and divide your remaining time among the tasks you personally need to complete.
Finally, you apply a deliberate focus to get the work done in the time you allocated. To do this, you avoid all distractions and work at your most productive times and locations.
Did I get it about right? Have you experienced this?
Use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage
Committing to a day of rest each week is like scheduling mini vacations. Once we know that we have a day less to get the work done, we are more productive with our time because we do a better job of prioritizing our tasks and are more focused in accomplishing them. Seven days of work is now done in six days.
More Benefits of Observing Sabbath
Parkinson’s Law helps us understand how taking off one day a week does not allow our work to suffer. But my experience and the experience of others is that more gets accomplished by taking a Sabbath Day each week. How is this possible?
As described by Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, the day should include rest, appreciation, and attentiveness. These actions will bring us a stronger purpose, additional energy, and more creativity to apply throughout the rest of the week.
This is what allows us to accomplish more. This is what allows us to be better than we ever thought possible.
What is your experience with Sabbath? Leave a comment.