One of the most common problems people have with time management is in estimating the amount of time any particular task will take. Underestimating and overestimating both bring their own problems, but here are some tips to help you out.
Underestimating –> This leads to the time crunches we are all familiar with. We over commit our time. Never get it all done. End up trying to do everything and not doing any well. This can be a real downer and leads to stress and can impact self esteem.
Overestimating –> This is less well recognized but can be equally dangerous. When overestimating a task it can lead to procrastination, it just seems too big to tackle and we wait till we have a large enough slot of time to get it done. If we have estimated an hour, our mind will work at a pace that will expand the task till it takes an hour regardless of whether it was really justified (this is the same principle that causes meetings to last the same length of time the room was booked for!) We end up with low productivity and missed opportunities. This is also a downer!
Trying to get a good handle on timing is to some degree a matter of experience, and understanding yourself is half the battle.
Think about the tasks on your current To Do list. Give your best estimate timings on each one and see how it reflects reality. You may find there are certain types of tasks you always underestimate and some you tend to overestimate.
The trick is to recognize this, and then you can try these tips to help.
- Don’t plan a lot of the tasks you tend to underestimate all in one day, back to back.
- Give yourself some contingency time in the day. Time where you can flex into if you underestimate and run over but if everything goes well you can fill it tasks from your task list.
- For tasks you tend to overestimate pick a time when you have only 20 minutes available and try and get as much done as possible in that time. Your work rate will be higher because of the imposed deadline and you will be amazed how far you will get.
- Record the actual time taken for each task against the estimate and review at the end of the day. See what conclusions you can draw about how you work.
Knowing your capabilities is important to your success. Underestimating the time needed for each task can lead to stress and errors. Overestimating can lead to missed opportunities and low self esteem. Next time you are planning your tasks try these tips to move to optimum productivity.
If you are struggling to control your time and get the results you know you are capable of then it is time to take action. The Focused Time Management System TM avoids all the clutter and gives you the most important things to focus on to get you back in control of your time and your life. It’s all step by step, not a big mish mash of things. So you do step one of the system, and when you’re done with that, you move on to step two, and so on. So easy! All the tips, tools, and worksheets are handed to you on a silver platter. E mail me at Julie@DevelopmentSolutions.US to arrange a time to chat over your issues and see if I can help