We’ve talked about why things always take longer than we plan before. Emily Guy Birken at Wise Bread suggests a way to avoid underestimating how long something will take you.
Photo by Kayla Kandzorra
Birken describes what’s called the “planning fallacy”, a phenomenon that happens to most of us when we plan certain tasks. Basically, we tend to underestimate how long something will take us to complete, even if we have practical experience doing the same task. Birken shares some advice a friend gave her on how to systematically overcome the issue:
When planning a project, increase the amount of time that you estimate it will take by doubling the number and going up to the next time unit. This is safer than simply adding additional days (or weeks, or months) to the estimate you come up with because it leaves time for seriously disruptive delays.
It doesn’t take much additional thought to plan things out this way, and it avoids making a commitment you can’t meet.