You can cure your time optimism. I did — and here is how.
Because, believing in yourself and having an optimistic approach to the world around you is wonderful, but optimism regarding how long something takes often comes back to bite you.
(If you are pressed for time (!), here is a video covering what I share in this blog post.)
It might take longer than we thought to transport ourselves to where we needed to be at a certain time. The assignment we were asked to do took longer than we anticipated to complete. The delivery time of something we need to have by a certain day was not as short as we assumed. Situations like these are typical examples of when things can get hectic or go a bit wrong in our work and life due to our misjudging or inaccurately estimating of how much time things take.
If you consider yourself a time optimist then this should ring a bell, and everything always somehow gets hectic when the deadline is approaching and you have to finish up — even if you did your best to estimate how long it would take. It drains you to always have to speed things up, and you might eventually feel as if no matter what you do, you are always late. But do not worry — there is still hope for you.
I have been a persistent time optimist for years (and suffered some severe consequences because of it too), but a simple trick helped me and I want to share it with you today. Perhaps it will help you as well.
When I had gotten sick and tired of constantly being the time optimist who was always running late, I decided to double the time I spontaneously estimated that things would take.
If I caught myself thinking ”I will be there in ten minutes”, I corrected this estimation by thinking ”Alright, then let’s make it 20 minutes”. If I was just about to tell someone ”I will have it for you by tomorrow”, I stopped myself halfway and changed it to ”by the day after tomorrow”. If I was about to set my alarm clock to 6 am since ”it will only take me thirty minutes to get going”, I set it for 5:30 am instead.
I can not say that I fully comprehend how or why this rule-of-thumb has helped me become more accurate when estimating the amount of time things take, but for some reason it really has. I no longer double my original estimation (or perhaps I do, but I just don’t notice doing it anymore) and I no longer have to make tight corners at the very end of finishing tasks or when arriving at meetings like I used to.
If you want to see if this super-simple trick will cure your time-optimism as well, then from now on double all the time you spontaneously estimate things to take. That’s it!
More space right away
If you from now on double all times you set or estimate, then you will immediately better your foresight as well as give yourself a better chance to get a first-hand experience of how long things actually take — when you are not rushing or hurrying.
Sure, since you will probably become more of a time-pessimist than a time optimist, and as you get better at making accurate estimations, you will have more and more time on your hands when you now arrive on time more often and finish tasks before they are due. But, I am sure there is always something you could do in that extra time — especially since many people are able to do many of their tasks more or less anywhere nowadays.
You do not have to keep doing this forever. Just continue until you notice that you are always on time and on top of tasks, and that you have increasing amounts of time over when arriving early or finishing tasks before they are due. When this is the case you are obviously ready to let go of the rule and go back to estimating — only this time I am sure it will be much more accurate!
What was your trick?
Do you have some other trick or rule-of-thumb that helped you set that time optimism straight? Tell me!
(So, when you stress less — here is how to make proper use of the time you have gained.)