Spencer Carli


February 05, 2018

I’ve been historically bad at estimating…

  1. Estimating what it will take to complete a project
  2. Estimating how long it will take me to complete a task
  3. Estimating the number of working hours in a week

The funny thing? I didn’t realize this until recently. Since going solo things have often felt “off” in my work weeks.

Until this last month I never really understood why. When I was working for other people I was, for the most part, in the zone. I was working at a pace that made sense and felt right.

What changed when I switched jobs?

This year I’ve been writing goals, projects, and tasks in a notebook rather than just my digital task manager. With a purely digital approach once something was completed it was gone…and quickly forgotten.

This works great for the person in me who wants “inbox zero.” But didn’t work for the “manager” in me who wanted to reflect on if things took as long as expected, longer than expected, or shorter than expected. That data didn’t easily exist in my workflow.

So, I’ve got a bit over a month worth of data now…. what have I found?

  1. I schedule about 2 weeks worth of (estimated) work per week.
  2. I get about 0.75 days worth of output per day compared to my estimate

What’s this mean?

I’m ambitious on my weekly goals. I like the idea of a stretch goal, but two weeks worth of work for one working week doesn’t make sense — there’s not a chance I’ll accomplish that. It’s a mental hit (and a great way to avoid the actually important work by rationalizing and saying look at all this other stuff I did!)

The other thing I’m learning is that you don’t get 8 hours of work out of an 8 hour day (or whatever your workday is). You get up and walk around, you screw around on your phone for a while, you take naps (working from home cannot be beaten). Those things are all okay in my book, but they should be factored into your estimates.

Track what you planned for the week/month/quarter and see how the actual output compares to the estimated output. Use that data to find your stride.