Vojtech Rinik

Estimate your todos

Posted on 2012/3/8

Say you’re just about to start working on something. You sit down, put on your headphones and start writing code.

After two hours of intensive work you find out you’ve gotten almost nowhere. You’re wondering why, you didn’t think the task you picked would take that much time, in fact you didn’t think about it at all.

So you’ve spent two hours and you feel like you have done nothing. You think, “I might as well check if there are some new creative uses of my favorite meme.” And you end up on Reddit.

If you had estimated the task in the first place, you would know it’s a three pointer, so it’s gonna take a while and that’s okay. After finishing it after four hours of intensive focus, you know exactly why it took so long — because it was a three pointer! And you know you’ve accomplished a good deal of work, and you’re happy to keep going.

Now let’s talk about another case: There’s some really easy task to do, but suddenly something of highest importance appears in your Facebook news feed (your ex is now in a relationship). Two hours later you find out you could’ve finished your simple task a long time ago, but you didn’t, so you’re really demotivated.

If you estimated that task in the first place, it would get a point or two, and you would feel really motivated to deliver it. When the important Facebook item comes up you would think “well my ex being in a relationship is utterly important, but this task is just a one-pointer so I’m gonna finish it first.”

Conclusion: Estimate your work even if you’re not in an agile team, even if you don’t have deadlines, or milestones, even if you don’t want to measure your velocity. It’s not only for measuring things and estimating prices!