OpinionProductivity

We Suck at Estimating

Parkinson's Law quote

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

– Parkinson’s Law

Do you ever set aside an hour to do a task that you secretly know will take a lot less time to complete only to be surprised when it does take the whole hour to finish?

We are notoriously bad at estimating how long a task will take to complete. Actually we are bad at estimating anything: deadlines, budgets, length of projects, number of clothes to bring on holiday. The list goes on.

The good news? We all suck at it.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like good news but it is. It’s good to know it isn’t just you. So, relax. There’s plenty of empirical evidence supporting our lack of prowess – a good starting point is to find a summary of Daniel Khaneman’s book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’.

The better news is that we can improve our estimates, So, don’t relax too much. Do an internet search for terms like:

  • Planning Fallacy
  • Anchoring bias
  • Procrastination
  • Confirmation bias

Find out what they are and how to overcome them.

Also, to improve estimates use your knowledge based on past experience. Don’t rely on memory, look at actual facts and figures of previous related tasks/work and use them to estimate future projects.

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