Parkinson's law, which provides insight into a primary barrier to efficient time management, states that, "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". This articulates a situation and an unexplained force that many have come to take for granted and accept. "In exactly the same way nobody bothered and nobody cared, before Newton's day, why an apple should drop to the ground when it might so easily fly up after leaving the tree," wrote Straits Times editor-in-chief, Allington Kennard who continued, "There is less gravity in Professor Parkinson's Law, but hardly less truth."
Parkinson first published his law in a humorous satirical article in the Economist on 19 November 1955, meant as a critique on the efficiency of public administration and civil service bureaucracy, and the continually rising headcount, and related cost, attached to these. That article noted that, "Politicians and taxpayers have assumed (with occasional phases of doubt) that a rising total in the number of civil servants must reflect a growing volume of work to be done." The law examined two sub-laws, The Law of Multiplication of Subordinates, and The Law of Multiplication of Work, and provided 'scientific proof' of the validity of these, including mathematical formulae.
Two years later, the law was revisited when Parkinson's new books, Parkinson's Law And Other Studies in Administration and Parkinson's Law: Or The Pursuit of Progress were published in 1957.
In Singapore, where he was teaching at the time, this began a series of talks where he addressed diverse audiences in person, in print and over the airwaves on 'Parkinson's Law'. For example, on 16 October 1957, at 10 a.m., he spoke on this at the International Women's Club programme talk held at the Y.W.C.A. at Raffles Quay. The advent of his new book as well as an interview during his debut talk was covered in an editorial in The Straits Times, shortly after, entitled, "A professor's cocktail party secret: They arrive half an hour late and rotate." Time, which also wrote about the book noted that its theme was "a delightfully unprofessional diagnosis of the widespread 20th century malady — galloping orgmanship." Orgmanship, according to Parkinson, was "the tendency of all administrative departments to increase the number of subordinate staff, 'irrespective of the amount of work (if any) to be done," as noted by the Straits Times. Parkinson, it was reported, wanted to trace the illegibility of signatures, the attempt being made to fix the point in a successful executive career at which the handwriting becomes meaningless, even to the executive himself."
Straits Times editor-in-chief Allington Kennard's editorial, "Twice the staff for half the work," in mid-April, 1958 touched on further aspects or sub-laws, like Parkinson's Law of Triviality, and also other interesting, if dangerous areas like, "the problem of the retirement age, how not to pay Singapore income tax when a millionaire, the point of vanishing interest in high finance, how to get rid of the company chairman," etc. The author supported Parkinson's Law of Triviality — which states that, "The time spent on any item of an agenda is in inverse proportion to the sum involved," with a local example where it took the Singapore City Council "six hours to pick a new man for the gasworks and two and a half minutes to approve a $100 million budget." It is possible that the book, humorous though it is, may have touched a raw nerve among the administration at that time. As J. D. Scott, in his review of Parkinson's book two weeks later, notes, "Of course, Parkinson's Law, like all satire, is serious — it wouldn't be so comic if it weren't — and because it is serious there will be some annoyance and even dismay under the smiles."
His celebrity did not remain local. Parkinson travelled to England, arriving there aboard the P. & O. Canton, in early June 1958, as reported by Reuters, and made the front page of the Straits Times on the 9th of June. Reporting from London on Saturday 14 June 1958, Hall Romney wrote, "Prof. C. N. Parkinson of the University of Malaya, whose book, Parkinson's Law has sold more than 80,000 copies, has had a good deal of publicity since he arrived in England in the Canton." Romney noted that, "a television interview was arranged, a profile of him appeared in a highbrow Sunday newspaper, columnists gave him almost as much space as they gave to Leslie Charteris, and he was honoured by the Institute of Directors, whose reception was attended by many of the most notable men in the commercial life of London." And then, all of a sudden, satire was answered with some honesty when, as another Reuters release republished in the Straits Times under the title, Parkinson's Law at work in the UK," quoted, "A PARLIAMENTARY committee, whose Job is to see that British Government departments do not waste the taxpayer's money, said yesterday it was alarmed at the rate of staff increases in certain sections of the War Office. Admiralty and Air Ministry..." In March 1959, further publicity occurred when, the Royal Navy in Singapore took umbrage at a remark Parkinson had made during his talk, about his new book on the wastage of public money, in Manchester, shortly before. Parkinson is reported to have said "Britain spent about $500 million building a naval base there [Singapore] and the only fleet which has used it is the Japanese." A navy spokesman, then, attempting to counter that statement said that the Royal Navy's Singapore base had only been completed in 1939, and, while it was confirmed that the Japanese had, indeed used it during the Second World War, it had been used extensively by the Royal Navy's Far East fleet, after the war. Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford, Richard Storry, writing in the Oxford Mail, 16 May 1962, noted, "The fall of Singapore is still viewed with anger and shame in Britain."
On Thursday 10 September 1959, at 10 p.m., Radio Singapore listeners got to experience his book, Parkinson's Law, set to music by Nesta Pain. The serialised program continued until the end of February 1960. Parkinson, and Parkinson's law, continued to find its way into Singapore newspapers through the decades.