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We're terrible at predicting time, so do these things instead

The three-point estimation

It forces you to confront your possible optimism by asking you to identify 3 different pieces of data:

  1. A best-case scenario estimate
  2. A worst-case scenario estimate
  3. A most likely scenario estimate

Once you have your 3 numbers, calculate the average of the 3 points of data.

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We're terrible at predicting time, so do these things instead

We're terrible at predicting time, so do these things instead

https://www.fastcompany.com/90313102/how-to-get-better-at-estimating-your-time

fastcompany.com

6

Key Ideas

The planning fallacy

Is our tendency to underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a task. Estimation mistakes can usually be attributed to 2 key factors:

  • Failing to consider how long it’s taken us to complete similar tasks in the past.
  • Assuming that we won’t run into any complications that will cause delays.

Use historical data

Start by asking: How long do such projects usually last?

If you’re coding a new feature for your company’s app, look at how long it took your team to build and release a similar feature in the past. If you’re writing a 4,000-word blog-post, review your data showing how many hours/days it took you to write a similar piece previously. Then, base your estimates off of that data.

Search outsiders' perspectives

While we tend to be optimistic about our own abilities to complete tasks quickly, we’re much more pragmatic when it comes to figuring out how long it will take someone else to complete a task.

Leave space for the unknown

When estimating any task or project, you have to take all of these things into account: There are things you know will happen, things you know could happen, and things you never once considered might happen.

The three-point estimation

It forces you to confront your possible optimism by asking you to identify 3 different pieces of data:

  1. A best-case scenario estimate
  2. A worst-case scenario estimate
  3. A most likely scenario estimate

Once you have your 3 numbers, calculate the average of the 3 points of data.

Plan during the low point of your day

And when your good mood is at its lowest point in the day. In that case, you may be feeling less optimistic, which could help you create more realistic estimates

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The Planning Fallacy

We all have busy schedules, but we are incorrectly planning our day around the time we have, not around priorities.

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“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."
The 4 Kinds of Priorities

The Decision Matrix on how to approach tasks has 4 quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: The Urgent Problems which are important.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but important tasks
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not really important
  • Quadrant  4: Distractions and time-wasting tasks. 

Prioritize the important (Quadrant 2) to attain maximum benefit from your work.

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Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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The conjunctive events bias

We often overestimate the likelihood of events that must happen in conjunction with one another.

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  • Broader categories are always more probable than their subsets. It's more likely someone has a pet than they have a cat. It's more likely someone likes coffee than they like cappuccinos. The extension rule in probability theory thus states that if B is a subset of A, B cannot be more probable than A.
  • Likewise, the probability of A and B cannot be higher than the probability of A or B. It is more probable that Linda is a bank teller than that she is a bank teller and active in the feminist movement.
The best plans often fail

A plan is like a system. A change in one component of a system will likely impact the functionality of other parts of the system. 

The more steps involved in a plan, the higher the chance that something will go wrong and cause delays and setbacks. For this reason, home remodeling and new product ventures seldom finish on time.

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