Time-realism By Marie Kjær

Being Realistic

I’ve read a lot of blog post and articles on productivity and how to optimize every hour of my day. Sometimes I feel inspired and decide to try a new system. Sometimes I get completely obsessed with the idea of getting up at 5AM to do yoga, because it supposedly will increase my productivity with 567%. Usually I’m a little less obsessed with the idea at 5AM the next morning.

Being a creative minded person often leaves me wanting more time to do all the things that I dream of doing: Time to investigate and execute all my artsy ideas. I guess that’s why so many of us chase the formula for optimal performance. But even if someone actually cracked it, and found the perfect way to optimize every second of her/his life, that formula most definitely wouldn’t work for the next person.

In a professional context, knowing yourself and your time-consumption in a creative process is crucial: you need to know yourself to do the most optimal planning of your time and projects. Sometimes I kid myself and plan a project based on “best case scenarios” — fatal mistake if I want to make money on that project! I have to be realistic about how much recreational time I actually need, I try not to be time-greedy, but to be honest about the time I actually need to complete tasks on a project.

The trick is to be aware of my need for recreational buffer-time (Yes, I mean Facebook-time, starring at the wall, drawing doodles, doing yoga or whatever makes my creative neurons fire up). I try to notice how much time I spend on these non-work related activities, and I try to be realistic about how much time I should allocate for these things.

I’m not saying that it’s okay to tell clients that they should pay for “starring-at-the-wall time”, I’m just saying that I’ve seen to many examples of tending to regard ourselves as “best versions of ourselves” when we’re planning stuff. Tendencies to estimate based on “best case scenarios” when offering ball-park estimates to a client. I‘ve done it myself, I guess because I prefer presenting the best version of me to a client, but it backfires.

Offering an overly optimistic ball-park estimate to a client, is a horrible thing to do. It is almost impossible to alter that number, to something a little less attractive, once it’s out. The client will most definitely remember that overly optimistic number, and it’s going to take an effort to convince her/him that a less attractive number is “better”.

I aim to plan my projects realistically and avoid overselling the deadlines to a client — if I oversell a deadline, chances are that I’ll have to push myself to make the deadline and hate the work I’m doing, or I’ll miss the deadline and make my client furious — while hating myself for not being able to deliver the promised.