Office Organizing TIP #2 for 2013; Realistic Time Estimation

Published on: Author: Anne Langton

Some people do this naturally…and others?…well it just never crossed their minds to do it.  Some people do it well and others?…well they are the ones that truly think they can organize a filing system in 1 hour (including making labels)  You might be asking what does realistic TIME ESTIMATION have to do with organizing and specifically organizing a work space?  In a nutshell…EVERYTHING!  Realistic time estimation allows us to prioritize our actions and operate within the time frame of our work day.

In order to get and certainly feel organized, we must have a sense of accomplishment.  If however, the bills never get paid, the inbox never gets emptied, or the emails never get answered…all because there was NOT ENOUGH TIME…then surely it’s impossible to feel that sense accomplishment.  Most people underestimate how long a task requires and as a result move into “time debt”…or the feeling that there is never enough time.  Realistic time estimation allows us to complete a task and move on.  Time Debt gets us bogged down in the guilt and frustration of yet another uncompleted work related activity.  And what happens when there are many uncompleted activities surrounding us as a result of “time debt”?.. our work space gets out of control and disorganized….piles grow…things get lost…opportunities are missed.

Think of the hours in your work day as currency (which of course it actually is).  Let’s also say your work day is 8 hours long and each hour is valued at 10 dollars.  Imagine that first thing in the morning ,a  mysterious overseer called MR TIME SPENDER gives you $80. to “spend” during your work day.  You can spend it in any denomination or at any moment but you must spend it ALL.  More importantly you can only spend $80…in other words you cannot go into debt.  So at the end of the work day, you have dutifully paid MR TIME SPENDER $80. You might have paid him with four $20 bills or maybe it was eighty $1 bills but in the end you paid the time spender $80 within you 8 hour workday.

Well realistic time estimation is exactly like the currency our MR TIME SPENDER collected.  Chances are we can  accurately pay him back with currency because we all know the value associated with $80 and the various ways we can total $80.  We know what $80. can “buy” us.  Problem is many of us DO NOT know the time value associated with tasks that fill our time.  Without knowing that value we move into “time debt”.  This is why realistic time estimation is so critical to office organizing and effectively planning your work day.  Do you know the time you require to do the following tasks…?

  • checking emails
  • paying bills
  • processing snail mail
  • filing daily reports
  • using social media for biz benefits


  1. On 3 occasions, keep track of the time required to complete a specific task.  You might be surprised!
  2. Be aware of the little time nabbers around us…texts, social media, socializing
  3. Use a calendar…plan your day by plugging in activities (and by now you accurately know the time required)
  4. Take note of the time…its easy to lose track…use a timer if necessary

Here’s wishes for a “time debt” free  2013!

Langton Designs creates offices that work well and feel right