An easy, unspoken assumption I make when doing my personal resource calculations on a project is “I have all the energy and focus in the world to do this”.
I’m also an admitted workaholic and want to believe I can do all the things in record time.
I’m learning to slow down (admittedly with LOTS of help from friends) and ask some questions during my planning.
How am I feeling? How is my general health?
What else do I have going on? NOT just professionally, but personally?
How many things do I have going on? How much cognitive load does each individual thing require?
Because it is too easy to say “yes” to things I really don’t have the bandwidth to do. Particularly if I am trying to avoid something.
It’s the same thing when estimating time and human resources for a project.
In the workplace, I will typically get information on the number of hours per week the resource has on the project.
It’s too easy, when a resource manager says “you have 20 hours of X’s time,” to assume that it is a highly productive 20 hours.
But what else is going on?
How many other demands are on that person’s time in the workplace? If the person is pulled in too many directions – even if you are told “He has 20 hours for projects” – you may only get 10 quality hours.
Is there uncertainty in the environment that impacts the person’s sense of safety? Recent reorgs? Recent layoffs? Pending layoffs? People just jumping ship?
Then, there are the personal issues. You know, the ones that people say “don’t belong in the workplace.”
Is someone going through a major life change? Divorce? New (or very young) child? Marriage? Moving? Illness (theirs or loved ones)?
All of those events require energy, emotional bandwidth and cognitive load. Rightly.
And it is all out of the same resource pool.