As a freelancer, it’s important to be realistic about how much time a task will take because at the end of the day you’re the one your business is ultimately dependent on. If you don’t submit work when expected, then you could possibly face some serious consequences.
You need to make sure that you will have enough hours in the day to complete your tasks on time – whether it’s planing ahead or splitting the work up into smaller portions of time throughout the day so that you can avoid falling behind and over-stressing yourself with a tight deadline.
However, I have noticed that I tend to underestimate how long a task or project is going to take when it comes to getting things done. My estimations depend on the amount of time that I get into my deep work zone during the task and give my complete focus to getting it done properly. I forget how I actually get tired out as a task draws nearer to an end.
I like to think of it like torrents. When I search for a popular torrent from The Pirate Bay, there are dozens of “legitimate” sites that scrape the info for you and then show you how many people are seeding and/or downloading the torrent. And they even calculate how long it will take for you to download the torrent based on their “metric” and your connection’s speed. But the problem is that they’re all wrong because they don’t take into account the fact that the traffic will slow to a crawl once you start downloading that torrent.
The same thing happens when we estimate how long it will take us to finish tasks because we’re not actually even in the zone yet. We’ve got to get into the zone first and give our complete attention to the work at hand before we even start.
Let’s say you’re writing an article.
The idea of the article probably started as a spark in your mind. You might have written down some notes. You might have read books or other articles on the topic. You might have talked to some people you know, who might have recommended some books. But then, you start a word processor and start writing. Once you’re writing, your brain is processing everything that you’re putting down. You’re thinking about what you’ve done so far, what you’re going to do next and how to phrase it. You might even be editing what you’ve already done, while planning out the next part. And as you get close to the finish, your brain is even more busy. By the time you finally finish writing, you’ve spent a lot of time getting ready to write, processing what you’ve written, as well as thinking about what’s going to happen next. All of that means your processing time slows down.
Plus, there are many distractions around. We can’t help but get sidetracked by social media or even just a simple text message. When you’re trying to focus on a task and you get a notification, your brain has to process the notification and refocus on what it was doing. This often leads to us losing interest in our work and we lose the sense of concentration.
The points above were just my initial thoughts and discoveries on this topic. I listed down all the reasons that I found out why everything takes longer than expected. Do you have any additional thoughts on this? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think! In a different blog update, I hope to discuss some ways to overcome these hurdles as I try to do so myself.
- Fear of failure, and perfectionism.
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Emotional resistance and stress
- Lack of resources, or the wrong tool
- Unclear or vague instructions
- Lack of time
- Bad habits, laziness, procrastination
- Not breaking down a big goal into smaller ones
- Trying to do many things at once
- Not setting priorities
- Not planning properly
- Not using your energy wisely