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.

People are like angry wolves.

People are like angry wolves

When was the last time you helped someone? When was the last time you helped someone without fearing he would return the next day with the same question?

 
People always want more and they want it quicker. When someone asks me to help him, I always intend to do so. Just because it is in my nature, as is with many people.
That is a good thing, I think. They thank me for helping them out and it only took me 15 minutes to make him happy. Yes, I did it. Back to my own work.
The next day is passing by and there he is: ”You did a great job yesterday, can you help me out with something else?” What do you answer? Happy to be appreciated you accept to help so: ”What can I do for you?”
What do you think the guy will ask next? Well it’s simple, he will ask the same as before but two times as difficult and of course in the same timespan. That is not what I wanted. Can I still get out, or should I just make the best of it and be smarter next time? Most of us will take the second choice and go for it. But they will keep in mind this lesson. Next time someone asks to help, they will ask something in return. They will ask for something to make up for the time they lost.
Time lost for helping someone else? Yes, indeed. People will feel it that way. It is a human reaction. Some of us will resist and continue to help people without return. Is it wrong to ask something in return? No! Is it wrong to ask someone for help? No! What to do then? When I ask something I try to help the other person as much as possible with my own question. I’ll try to provide them something in return. I will ask if he can show me how I can do it myself. So people are like angry wolves. They will distrust someone who asks for help, they will always ask for more but eventually they will live together and sort it out.
 
I will continue to help other people. Do you?

 

What can you do about it?

  • Be respectful when you reach out for help by engaging yourself. You ask for help, you are not delegating tasks.
  • Continue to help people by explaining how they can do it themselves.