You’re here because you tend to chronically underestimate how long things take, and overestimate what you can get done in an hour, a day, or a week.
People can almost always self-identify as misguided time optimists; meaning that if this is a problem for you, you know.
But you might act confused about how you can solve it.
Let’s put an end to that confusion.
In order to make a problem compelling enough to solve, you first need to understand the true cost of it in your life.
Chronic underestimation leaves you feeling perpetually disappointed in yourself, because you’re never meeting your own expectations.
You end every day and every week feeling defeated, embarrassed, and frustrated, instead of satisfied, calm, and pleased.
You’re also likely always pushing deadlines, rearranging things, and feeling stressed. That’s a lot of lost time, energy, and social capital.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
The solution is to be willing to feel uncomfortable at the beginning of the week, by being honest with yourself about how long things take and what you can truly take on. You will need to dump, delegate, and delay results and tasks. You will feel like you’re passing up opportunities. You will want to keep believing that you can get it all done.
You can’t, and you won’t.
Being honest with yourself will suck at first, but it will make your life 1000% more calm, manageable, and rewarding. (I promise.)
Here are 3 solutions:
- Beware of hope: Feeling hopeful feels good in the moment, but it actually backfires when it comes to properly estimating your workload for the week. If you are feeling hopeful about your week, use it as a cue that you are likely putting too much on your plate.
- Channel a helpful feeling: The most effective feelings to tap into when you’re planning are certain, committed, and acceptance. This sounds like, “I’m willing to let go of what I don’t have time for, and I’m all in on what is on my calendar this week.” These feelings will remind you to plan realistically for the reality of your situation; not optimistically. This is the one and only place where optimism is not welcome.
- Get curious: The antidote to confusion is curiosity. Confusion sounds like “I don’t know how long things take” and “I don’t know how to solve this problem”; this eventually leads to resignation. Curiosity sounds like “How can I figure out how long things take?” and “How can I solve this problem, once and for all?”
Lastly, be sure to remind yourself of this: A life-long habit of chronic underestimation can actually be broken immediately—you just need to commit to always telling yourself the truth, from here on out.
But it might take you some time, and that’s okay, too. Just remember that you deserve all of the benefits that come from nipping this habit in the bud.