Parkinson’s law, you know? This popular wisdom is that “The planned work will always take up the time allotted to it”. So, if you have a week to finish a file, it is likely that you will work on it until Friday noon. If, on the contrary, your boss asks you to make an important note in the next 4 hours, you will spend 3 hours and 50 minutes writing this note. Sound familiar?
In project management and to be able to meet your deadlines, it is therefore important to be able to set realistic deadlines so as not to waste time unnecessarily. The best way is still to estimate your workload as accurately as possible. How do I estimate my workload? Discover in this article concrete advice to better manage your time. If you want to go further to know how to estimate a workload and your personal organization, we recommend training on the subject.
Identify the priorities to be managed
Is your to-do list endless? It is physically impossible to finish everything in the day or the week? So, it is high time to take half an hour to prioritize these tasks. This half hour is far from wasted: it allows you to better target impact tasks for your work.
First, make a list of all the tasks you have to do and classify them into different categories: urgent, important or both. This method, also called Eisenhower’s matrix makes it easy to decide which tasks need to be done first. Then choose no more than 3 priority tasks to complete per day. Next to each task, write down how long that task will take you. In order to be as precise as possible, divide each task into sub-tasks. Each sub-task should take you no longer than 2 hours. If so, then look to split that step again.
Of course, to estimate how long a project will take you, you can apply the same methodology. Write down all the tasks to be accomplished, divide them into sub-tasks that should not take you more than 2 hours each and then add them up to have the effective time that this project will take you.
Schedule upcoming tasks in your calendar
Take your diary and place each sub-task of maximum 2 hours in your diary. This will give you an accurate estimate of how much time you have in the week.
Always allow for contingencies. A good practice is to reserve time slots for yourself where you do not schedule any appointments. Preferably always the same from one week to another. This time allows you to catch up on urgent tasks that you didn’t have time to finish this week. Friday morning is a good time to do this.
Analyze the time spent on your tasks
Each week or each month, take the time to compare your initial estimates with reality. This analysis allows you to adjust your time estimates for the coming days and improve.
Go beyond manually estimating your workload
Many project management tools, free or paid, can help you plan, organize and monitor your various projects and tasks in real time. Easily shared with your teams, these tools allow you to better visualize and estimate your workload over the coming days. Some tools we can recommend are Trello, Monday or Asana.
Properly estimating my workload allows me to be more efficient. Reducing the stress in my professional life is ideal on many levels. By applying the tips in this article, you will be able to more accurately estimate your workload. Like any professional skill, estimating your workload is an exercise that you will improve with time and experience. Feel free to test different ways of doing things or adapt certain methodologies you know about. If you want to go further in organizing your work or your management skills, contact our consultants and coaches today to discuss it with them. They can potentially advise you either on training adapted to your needs, or on personalized support.