What to do if you don’t know how long a project will take

by Julie Baird on January 13, 2010

In my last post on time management for students I discussed how to meet all your commitments without panicking. Now I want to discuss how well you estimate how long each of these commitments will take.

Do You Know How Long Things Take?

Being prepared to meet commitments is a lot easier when you understand how long each task will take. For example, if you have a paper to write, how long will it take you? I guess that depends on a whole bunch of things. But unless you sit down and work it out, at least to a best guess, then how do you know how to plan it in.

So here’s the trick

When you get an assignment, whether it is big or small, work out what needs to be done to complete it and how long each part will take. Then plan in time in your planner to carry it out.

But what if you guess wrong?

Build in some contingency time. In other words plan in the time you think you will spend, but add some time around that as a buffer in case you have underestimated. As you carry out each task see how close you were to your estimate and use that information to revise your plan if necessary.

What is your experience with estimating how long things take? Have you a favorite technique you would like to share?

If you want to learn more about how to free up time and get more done with less stress then give me a call and we can set up time to see if there is anything I can do to help.

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