The Step-by-step Framework For Doubling Your Productivity On Side-Projects By Limiting The Time You Work According To Parkinson’s Law

Ovidiu Stoica
2 min readMar 21, 2022


I will present the number best way to cut in half the time necessary to finish a side-project by strictly limiting the time you expect for it to take.

If you apply this framework, you can expect immediate returns because you will have a plan of attack for your next side-project and, most importantly, a schedule in which you wish to get it done.

Unfortunately, people start their side-projects with no initial timeframe, which increases the duration even more.

Work expands to fill the time available for its completion — Cyril Parkinson

This law is best used as a Thought Experiment. What would it take to finish this project in a very aggressive timeframe? Here’s how do it:

Step 1: List out all the details of the project. Be specific!

Take 10–15 minutes to do this. You need to know precisely what you are working towards.

If this is a software project, list out all the features it needs to have. Don’t go into implementation details; that comes later. Just focus on what the product will look like from the end-user’s perspective.

Step 2: Write down the duration your gut tells you it will take

After step 1, you will have a default period in which you expect this to be done. Write that number down. Write down the date at which you expect to finish.

A huge mistake people make is they don’t have deadlines. The theory on setting goals says the best goals are specific and have a clear timeframe — “By this time, I will have achieved X.”

Your mind needs a deadline to come up with solutions.

Step 3: Ask the question, “What would I have to do to finish the project 4x faster?”. Give 20 answers!

Write down the new timeframe. Stare at it to normalize it.

Don’t overthink the answers! Just write everything that comes to mind.

By the time you come up with 20 answers, I promise you will be amazed at the solutions your mind produced. The first 5 answers will be obvious, the next 5 will be more challenging, but after the 10th answer, where your mind will run out of ideas is where your creativity will set in. Force yourself to go to 20 answers!

The 20-answers technique was popularised by Brian Kelly and has shown excellent results for people that try it. It is a wonderful way to unlock your mind’s creative solutions.

I hope you take the time to go through this whole exercise, and I promise you will reap many benefits! Thank you for reading, and feel free to ask me any questions about this!

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Ovidiu Stoica

Hi, I’m Ovi Stoica! I help people build quality software and I write about technology, startups and marketing for developers.