How to get better at estimating your time

Creating proposals with fixed budgets can be a big challenge when it means estimating how long it’s going to take to create something that’s never been created before. By breaking down the project into smaller chunks and figuring out how long each chunk will take, somehow we arrive at the number of hours needed. But what exactly are we basing these numbers on, other than our gut instincts?

Humans aren’t the best at estimating required time

It’s logical that predicting how long it will take to do something you’ve never done, is actually really hard. Check out this great answer on quora that uses the analogy of a long hike and finding many unexpected obstacles along the way to explain why software development task estimates are usually off by a factor of 2–3.

However, for projects similar to ones you’ve done in the past, you can usually give some reasonable estimates based on your experience of working on those tasks before. But if you don’t track your time carefully when you first do a type of project, it’s still just you pulling a number out of a hat.

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