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The world we live in today tends to make long days in the office a fact of life. Employers are giving ever more work to ever fewer employees, and expecting them to still accomplish it. However, there are other culprits to late nights in the office than being overworked: one is procrastination, which I explained in my last post (incl. reference of post). Another one is having *unrealistic expectations of how long a task takes*. And, while it's easy to do it with new tasks or projects, you most likely do this also, or maybe even primarily, with the routine tasks we do all the time.  

We should know how long those routine tasks take, but it seems like sometimes we don't. It's due to a quirk of our brain: our brains, contrary to common beliefs, don't have an internal clock – that's why we need the clock on the wall. Our brains estimate time from experience and memory*. For instance, if you perform a task ten times, you brain will have a pretty good idea of how long it takes, just by remembering how long it took you in the past. This said, while in *most people the brain remembers the average of how long it took, *some brains tend to remember only one occurence*, more often than not one of the shortest, and this becomes the reference from then on.  

The good news is that you can consciously change this reference point: start by doubling the time you think something takes in your planning. For instance, if you think that a task will take an hour from start to finish, allocate two hours for it in your schedule. If it takes less than that, wonderful! You can use this extra time to get started on the next task earlier, or actually get home on time, for a change! If its still not enough time, triple it next time, until you can comfortable fit it in your schedule.  

After a while, you will have installed that doing the task takes you two hours instead of one, and you will plan your time much more accurately, and avoid the last minute rush, dash, stress and anxiety that go with not having enough time.  

Yours in Daily Mastery,


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