The Art of Estimating for Time Management: How Long Will It Really Take You?


How would you rate your ability to estimate how long it takes you to:

check your email?

go grocery shopping?

make appointments?

complete phone calls?


One skill that is essential to effective time management is to master the art of time estimation. It's this ability that will enable you to plan accordingly and leave yourself enough time for anything that is on your schedule and to-do list. Everything that requires an action takes time. Sometimes that means that you will need to break larger projects up into smaller pieces over time in order to get the entire thing done, especially if there is a deadline involved. Underestimating the time needed to complete projects can seriously throw off a schedule and cause problems such as missed deadlines.  

I would also suggest the three following strategies that will assist you in estimating your time: 

First, let people know your time limitations. Whether it's a meeting or phone call it's okay to let the other person know how much time you have available. That will enable them to focus on what is important and not waste valuable time. If the other person has difficulty being concise, reminding them throughout the meeting or call will be helpful and reduce cutting him or her off.

Second, if you want to get a realistic picture of how much time specific tasks currently take you, use a timer. Don't judge yourself, simply choose a specific task and set the timer. This type of exercise will provide you with valuable information and help you schedule and manage your time. You don't necessarily need to shorten the amount of time that a given activity takes, but having a realistic picture of it will allow you to plan accordingly.


Finally, leave yourself some flexibility and don't schedule too tightly. Include commute time to and from errands and appointments. Block off time to concentrate on email and social media rather than check haphazardly throughout the day. Include time for breaks and meals. If you find that you get to an appointment early, have something to read or go for a walk. Even if you only have an extra five minutes you can use it to enjoy deep breathing!

These are common sense strategies for time management that you will want to use.  The result? Less stress and a boost in productivity. 

Got questions? You can post your comments and questions below!

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