7 Reasons Why Your Time Estimates Are Wrong


Estimating time/effort is a difficult, error prone, yet essential part of working on any project. Whether you are a graphic designer, video editor, software developer or any other kind of creative worker, chances are you routinely underestimate the amount of time it takes to do something. You are not alone… incorrect estimates are endemic in the creative world, resulting in deadline and cost overruns, and the mistrust of your boss and colleagues. Here are some reasons why you (and everyone else) sucks at estimating time:

1. You want to impress our boss and co-workers with your stunning productivity

We’ve all been there… You are asked how long a task will take you, and you answer based on what you think your boss and co-workers want to hear, rather than thinking about how long it will actually take you. Then you end up working nights and weekends trying to make yourself right.

2. You think you’re more efficient than you are

We all like to think we’re highly effective multi-taskers who can slam through any task, no problems. The truth is that nobody really is. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to have a less-than-heroic level of productivity.

3. You don’t allow for the x-factor

Its easy to get caught in the trap of estimating time based on a perfect world scenario where there are no distractions, no difficult-to-solve problems, and no issues that might come up that need your urgent attention.

4. You don’t allow for breaks and productive procrastination

You are not a robot. You need to take breaks. Not only is it normal to take breaks and procrastinate… it is essential to your productivity.

5. You don’t allow for dependancies on your co-workers

Nobody works in a vacuum. If you work on a team, you rely on our workmates to get their job done so you can do your part. Make sure you take their time into account, allowing for their individual leves of time-estimate wrongness.

6. You don’t understand how you actually spend your time

The only way to understand how efficient you truly are is to track your time. Do you know how much time you need for email every day? Do you know how much time you spend in meetings vs productive work? Or do you take wild guesses based on gut feelings?

7. You rely on memory rather than hard data

The most effective way to estimate time is to base your estimates on similar tasks and projects you’ve done in the past. But relying on your memory instead of hard data is a fools paradise. You can hone your estimates by accurately measuring and recording your activities over an extended period, building intelligence about your own unique patterns of productivity. TimeTracker can do this for you automatically.

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