The final topic I want to cover in estimation is metrics. I’ve been trying all week to think of a way to weave the theme into a relate-able little anecdote or some kind of clever analogy, but I can’t. Metrics just ain’t sexy. They are extremely helpful though.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about how we can’t control the future and we don’t know what we don’t know.
I will now make an abrupt about face and say that there are some things we do know.
You know it takes x amount of time to cut out ten patterns, or three hours to string beads onto your best selling necklace. You know how long it takes because you’ve done it a skajillion times.
The known amount of time that it takes to do these (usually production) tasks is a metric. Estimating and planning your time with metrics helps to avoid the Parkinson’s Law effect. This is why it is very helpful to track how much time you spend on what, as much as possible.
You may find that it only takes you 15 minutes a day to maintain your Facebook page, or it may take two hours, but once you know, you can plan accordingly. You may find that you can’t fit some activities into such neat, granular packages (although I highly recommend ‘time-boxing’ activity on social media!) If not, that’s fine, too; just create metrics for those activities for which it makes sense.
If you know it takes you thirty minutes to do something, and you’ve scheduled that amount of time to do it, you will appreciate the reality of that time, and get in gear to do it.