January 19, 2021

137: Estimate Tasks and Projects with Greater Accuracy with Jessica Katz

Most of us are terrible at estimating how long work will take. For any given task, that may not matter. But if you’re trying to plan your week or create a project plan with your team, the lack of accurate forecasting can become a major point of frustration and stress.

In this episode I talk with Jessica Katz. Jessica’s organization, Liberated Elephant, provides Agile coaching and change management to transform successful startups into commanding enterprises. Jessica focuses on the human potential of the organization – How to move from where you are, to where you want to be, while retaining team engagement and increasing revenue.

Jessica and I talk about how to more accurately estimate the time required to complete work, and how to continually improve your estimates, how to get your team to adopt a mindset for effective time and task planning, and more.

Members of The Modern Manager get 15% off a one hour coaching session with Jessica to help improve your leadership, intentionally design your career path, or better navigate your life and work in alignment with your core principles. To join go to themodernmanager.com/join

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Read the related blog article: How To Accurately Estimate Your Tasks and Projects

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s difficult for human beings to estimate how long complex tasks will take. We don’t consider all the things that could go wrong (planning fallacy) and we generally assume things will go well (optimism bias).
  • To improve your time estimation, break tasks down to the smallest thing you can do that still has value.
  • Estimate the amount of time each task will take. Keep track via a simple spreadsheet of how long each item took to complete.
  • Build empirical data by tracking actual time against projections. Use the data to make more informed guesses on how to plan out your time.
  • Estimate a reasonable amount of time for a task based on your data, not just a pure guess. You can then decide who’s going to work on what and how you’re going to schedule it based on capability and capacity.
  • Don’t set your plans in stone. Focus on what you’re trying to achieve and adjust your plan as you go along.
  • Allow for experimentation,adjust for context changes, and review your plans every 2- 4 weeks with your team.
  • Get your team on board by modeling the behaviors you’re expecting. If you want your people to work at a more sustainable pace with less hours and to keep track of and manage their time better, you should also.
  • Host a meeting to discuss what your goals are: Are you looking for better time management or less employee stress? What difficulties are you or your organization experiencing? Talk through ideas about how you can improve, and review your plans frequently.

Additional Resources:

mamie@mamieks.com

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