Tag Archives: time estimation

Do You Underestimate The Tasks You Like?

I’m sure I do this and I’m wondering whether you think everybody does. When I’m asked to estimate how much time some task is going to take:

  • If it’s something I enjoy doing, like writing, or programming, or driving  on an open road, my estimate is always too low.
  • If it’s something I don’t enjoy, like chores, or long meetings, or driving through city traffic, then my estimate is always too high.

I’m serious. Back in the 1990s when I was actually programming real software product – I did a third of the code in the first Business Plan Pro – my estimates of the time things would take were terrible. Even today, when I’m mostly writing, the time I actually take doing this blog post, to name one example, is about three times more than what I would have thought when I started it.

And that’s a business problem, not just a random thought.  Coordinating and collaborating requires managing time estimates. How do you coordinate marketing implementation and launch, for example, if time estimates are wrong?

It was hell on me when I was getting any of my books finished. It was so much more fun to imagine them, outline and highlights and all, think about them, than to actually write all those words.

I tried to double or triple my own estimates for my own work, but that didn’t work very well either, because every so often I’d get really psyched on a job, get into a zone, and finish it as quickly as I originally thought I would.

So I have no solution to this problem. Maybe it’s a good thing to have jobs you like as much as I’ve liked some of mine. But it’s hard to deal with. Do you have a solution?

(Image: Enrico Fianchini/istockphoto)