Hofstadter's Law

Hofstadter's Law

Ever wonder why people always beat the deadline (just in the nick of time) or despite deadlines, people always ask for extension. To a certain extent, it is because of poor planning (miscalculated the time required), or due to many unexpected intervening factors (Murphy's Law?), or sheer inability to meet the deadline. Regardless of how much time there is, time is always lacking and there is always the need for more time! This is Hofstadter's Law.

The Hofstadter's Law is a self-referencing time-related adage, coined by the American Pulitzer Awardee Prof. Douglas Hofstadter - "It always takes longer than you expect!"

The Hofstadter's Law could be a derivative of the Parkinson's Law - time expands to fill the time available! The amount of time does not matter. People will always aim to work by maximizing the time allowable. And if they can, people will always try to extend the time possible. It always just simply takes longer than is expected.

INSIGHTS: To be conscious of time needs discipline, determination and dedication. Time is never enough; we might not be able to finish on time, but just keep on working and waste nothing. Jim Rohn was very practical in his line: “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” Alice Bloch was also correct to observe: “We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves!” The Hofstadter's Law might also therefore mean that we always simply take ourselves longer than we expect! And so we always say better late than never -- but never late is better!
Harvey Mackay was nicely melodramatic:

"Time is free, but it's priceless.
You can't own it, but you can use it.
You can't keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you've lost it, you can never get it back.!”


Uris, Auren. 1986. 101 of the Greatest Ideas in Management. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Douglas Hofstadter at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Hofstadter