How We Spend Our Time

One way to categorize the time we spend is:

  • overhead
  • ongoing commitments
  • unique work
  • flexible time


Overhead time is incidental, necessary time that can't be associated with any specific work.

In some cases it's because people are away, for reasons ranging from vacations to training.

In other cases it's things like formal meetings with one's manager or supervisor.

We estimate overhead to be 40% of people's time. That may seem high, however there is justification for the estimate.

Ongoing Commitments

This is time we can predict we will spend because of ongoing commitments. We've started to discuss this.

Once we have these estimates, we'll be able to estimate the time that is realistically available for new/unique work.

Unique Work

This is the time that our clients tend to focus on.

They generally always want to know why their unique request isn't done sooner.

And if it's not done soon, they like to ask for an estimate of when it will be done.

We don't stand a chance of providing such an estimate without having an estimate of how much time we have available for this kind of work.

Flexible Time

Any time estimates we have will be very fuzzy. Our experience tells us that pretending otherwise is unrealistic. So we must have time that is not allocated to any specific activity, to handle unavoidably approximate estimates.

While emergencies are in principle part of the above "Unique Work", we want to reduce their impact upon planning by reserving some extra time for them.

Providing time for staff innovation and choice is generally productive, both directly and because of improved morale and reduced stress.

The Balance

Once we have an estimate of our time commitments to repetitive/ongoing work, we can combine that to estimate how much time is available for the combination of Unique Work and Flexible Time.

We would like both to be high smile

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Topic revision: r1 - 2012-03-29 - BillInce
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