It’s not that simple.

It will only take a minute. That’s easy, I’ll finish it today. We shouldn’t do it like that, there is a quick way to do this. Isn’t it finished yet? You hear these sentences every day, but why does everyone think everything we do is simple?

I hate it when someone says it’s simple. It makes me feel stupid when I don’t get it right within a minute. But that’s not the only problem. Because people say everything is simple, we are all overbooked. We start the day with telling what we’ll do and overestimate ourselves. When you believe the others, all you’re doing is simple. So what do you do? You take up some extra tasks, to fill your day. You don’t want to be the one who’s slowing down the team because he doesn’t understand those easy tasks. But we are not helping ourselves by doing this. We promise stuff we can’t deliver. That easy task takes longer than expected and before you know, you are making extra hours.

At work, it’s part of my job to make estimations of the work I do. Every task that is assigned to our team, should be estimated. Most of the time, we do this together. What you see is that some people always have very low estimations and others go for the higher ones. I am always tempted to go for low estimations, since you don’t want to disappoint your bosses. You know they have a plan in their head and high estimations will ruin that. But the more we underestimate, the more people will stop believing in us. Underestimation means delivering only part of what you promised and makes people angry. Unfortunately, those angry people sometimes force us to lower our estimations. Their smile, their puppy eyes or just their words ’It’s simple as that’ makes us soft and lower our estimations.

It’s like an addiction you need to get rid of. I try to conquer this by doubling estimations. If I think I can do it in one day, I ask two. I know that sounds crazy but it is reality. There are always things that pop up, things that interrupt your workflow and make you lose that precious time. You should also stop saying it’s simple, because it isn’t. Try to remember this: ’It’s not that simple’. Starting you computer is simple. No more battery power, problems with your harddrive, is it still that simple? Before you know, that one hour you needed for an easy task has passed by calling IT-support. And the next five minutes will be spend explaining your boss that the task hasn’t finished yet. Funny isn’t it?

Next time you estimate the duration of a task, think twice and avoid disappointment.

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