Ask someone else how long the job will take you

One of the best bits of Robin Ince’s Christmas Show at the Bloomsbury Theatre this year was Claudia Hammond’s bit on the latest science about how the brain perceieves time. In short, it does it really badly but there are some hacks you can use.

Apparently up until about the age of 4 we have very little idea about the concept of ‘tomorrow’. This is why when you tell a three year old that they can finish their lego masterpiece tomorrow, they will probably have a strop. Their brain hasn’t yet developed the idea of planning ahead.

And as adults we’re terrible at estimating how long something will take us — generally we massively underestimate the complexity of tasks. The best way around this in a work context is to ask somebody else to estimate how long something will take you — I might start trying this.

I think I also might buy Claudia’s book which is all about time perception and is called Time Warped. Maria Popova has a very nice summary.