We Often Fail At Setting Realistic Timelines for Tasks; Here’s How to Improve

By OAKFLOW

It’s not easy to accurately set timelines for tasks, but it’s possible to plan effectively

Failing to meet small deadlines repeatedly can affect your mental health. One of the biggest reasons people fail to meet deadlines is because they underestimate the time it takes to accomplish tasks. The unfortunate thing is this isn’t a one-off occurrence. 

You see this all the time in the workplace when teams fail to meet deadlines. You see this all the time with any large public service project or any project that costs millions of dollars. Many have probably forgotten or have long since moved out of the area, but some of us are still waiting for the metro line that is now YEARS overdue to finally reach the airport!

Not all of our tasks have implications on multiple cities, but when a person fails to meet a small deadline repeatedly, it can have a significant effect on their mental health. That, of course, is a big enough impact to consider this issue of meeting timelines for your tasks. Even the personal ones you’ve set.

This is because people strive for their goals and when they fail to meet the small deadlines, they feel like they are letting themselves down. In addition, they may be constantly worrying about the next deadline that is coming up and that pressure may also affect their mental health.

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What Causes Us to Miscalculate When Planning Your Day

We often underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks. This is known as the planning fallacy. It’s when we overestimate how long it will take to complete a task and underestimate how much time will be left over after that task is completed.

Researchers have dedicated many hours to studying this phenomenon. MIT even published research on it.

The planning fallacy can be attributed to an individual’s inability to accurately estimate complex timelines or their tendency to underestimate the time commitment required for completing tasks due to optimism.

It’s caused by cognitive biases, such as “optimism bias”, which cause people to overestimate their abilities, and “hindsight bias”, which causes people to often remember past events more fondly than they actually were at the time.

How to Improve Your Estimating Skills When Planning Your Day

Estimating skills are vital for a productive day. It is something that can be learned by practice and looking at what has been done in the past.

A good estimating process will help you to be more accurate in your estimates. You need to have a specific scope of the project, a detailed timeline and a well-founded understanding of your team’s ability to complete the tasks efficiently.

The estimating process includes breaking down the project into smaller parts and then assigning them into different categories depending on how long it will take to do each task. These categories include: 1) Very short, 2) Short, 3) Medium, 4) Long and 5) Very long tasks.

A good practice is to use a task that you know you can accomplish consistently within a specific amount of time. Assign that task to a category as a reference and you can assign other tasks using your reference point.

Keep Track of All of Your Tasks in One Location

There is no one-size-fits-all with task management. The to-do list is one of the most popular organizational tools to keep track of tasks.

It helps you stay on top of your workload by making sure that you are not forgetting any tasks. It’s also a great tool for planning out your week and prioritizing important tasks.

The best thing about to-do lists is that they can be used for anything! You can use it to organize your daily errands, grocery list, or even your work projects.

We know that task management is complicated and it’s also one of the most important things in our life.

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