3 Methods for More Accurately Estimating Your Time - Thyme Is Honey

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3 Methods for More Accurately Estimating Your Time: learn three effective methods for more accurate time estimates including a free calculator download.

You know how it goes. You’re in the middle of a meeting when you get asked to estimate how long a specific task will take you. *gulp*

Most of the time, you will be one of two people: The person who knows the answer and says it with confidence, or the person who turns bright red between blurting out an estimate that every single person in the meeting knows is far from accurate.

Knowing how to accurately estimate the time a task or project will take is a skill. Some of us will get better at it with practice, and some of us may always need a tool or method to help us increase our accuracy. The moral of this story? It’s possible to get better at estimating your time if you know how!

Let’s look at 3 of my favorite methods for becoming a Time Estimating Wizard.

Calculate Your Whoops Factor

A whoops factor? I made it up…but hang with me.

Most people who are bad at estimating their time are actually *predictably bad* at estimating their time. If you can crack the code on what your “Whoops Factor” actually is….you can easily calculate more accurate time estimates.

To make it easy (and demonstrate my point) I made this free Whoops Calculator. It will do some fancy math stuff and tell you how to use your Whoops Factor moving forward to be more accurate with estimating your time.

Figuring it out is simple and IMHO it’s one of the best tools for improving estimation accuracy. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click here to grab my free Google Sheets Template for my Whoops Calculator.
  2. Add 5-10 upcoming tasks to Column A.
  3. Guess how long each task will take you and add it to Column B.
  4. Now, as you complete those tasks, track your time and update Column C to reflect the actual time it took.
  5. The calculator will then display your Whoops Factor in cell C16 and will show you what more accurate estimates for those projects would have been in Column D.
  6. Moving forward, you can use your Whoops Factor to calculate more accurate estimates. Simply make your “guestimate” and then multiply it by the number in Cell C16.

An example of using the Whoops Calculator, using the data in the screenshot above, would be for me to “guestimate” that creating my monthly social media reports will take me 2 hours. I’d multiply 2 hrs x My Whoops Factor (which appears in cell C16). 2 x 1.32 = 2.64. So to be more accurate, I’d estimate the time at about 2.6 hours (2 hours and 36 minutes).

Find Your Average

Another method would be a 3-Point estimate. That would look like this:

  1. Write down a best-case estimate.
  2. Write down a worst-case estimate.
  3. Write down a most-likely estimate.

Next, just add them up and then divide them by 3. For example, if I need to edit 100 photos and I estimate that best case is 3 hours, worst case is 6 hours, and more-than-likely it takes 4 hours…then I’d provide my client with an estimate of 4.3 hours (3 + 6 + 4 = 13. 13/3 = 4.33).

Turn-and-Learn

It might seem counterintuitive, but even those of us who are terrible at estimating our own time can actually be pretty good at assessing other people’s time. So, use that to your advantage. Sit down with a friend or co-worker and try creating estimates for each other’s tasks and projects for the upcoming day or week.

Large teams often use this method when estimating projects, and call it “turn-and-learn”. Referring to having each team member write their estimate on a piece of paper, then turn them in/over. Someone on the team will be tasked with adding them up to find the average.

Learn More

Want to learn other methods for becoming a master of your time? My online group course, Thyme Transformation, is exactly what you’re looking for. Head over here to learn more about it and join me for the next session, which beings on June 5th.

3 Methods for More Accurately Estimating Your Time

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