A way to get realistic about what will get done in the time that you have.
A few weeks ago in one of my Hello Monday videos (titled Working for “Free”?) I spoke about the time you may be “gifting” to your employer. We give our time voluntarily for many reasons, but sometimes the scope creep of this gifted time is detrimental to our well-being (during a busy period, or over the long term).
Optimism bias is a real thing, and every human has it (yes, even the pessimists). It is one of the reasons you keep going, despite the many challenges in your day (which is why it is baked into the human operating system). Optimism bias may also keep us from recognizing the impact of scope creep when our working life eats into our personal life. Being objective about the hours you work, and what fits into those hours (realistically), is important, both at home AND at work.
Do the math. Take a look at the work you are accountable for delivering. Estimate the hours it will realistically take to complete (best guess). Next, calculate the number of work hours you have in the period you need to complete the work (i.e. a week, or a month). Use the working hours you are paid for in that period, not the ones you “volunteer”. Subtract from that number any statutory holidays, outside appointments or vacation time you know is booked. Now, subtract from that total the number of hours you are in meetings or are already committed to something else at work. That is your “real” number of hours available to work. Take the number of hours needed to deliver your work minus the number of hours you actually have to work on those things.
Example (weekly average for a 3-month planning window):
Time available (40 hrs/week)
MINUS, Time unavailable (average of 2.5 hrs/week)
EQUALS Time available/week = 37.5 hrs/week
Promised/committed work (32 hrs/week)
PLUS, Time booked in meetings (18hrs/week)
EQUALS Time utilized/week = 50 hrs/week
DEFICIT = 12.5 hrs/week
Feeling optimistic? Do the math because it makes possible a new conversation about which items matter at work, and which ones can wait. When you have the figures, ask yourself what can get completed with a positive impact in the time you have? What needs to shift? Who can help you shift it? What conversations do you need to initiate to help others see what is, and is not, going to be completed in the time you have to do this work?
“The problem is you think you have time.”