I have never been one for lists, task lists or others. This was not always appreciated when I was working in programming. I’d be assigned a project and start right in on it, and more often than not would get the job done on time and usually exactly what the client (internal or external) wanted, or close enough that I could clean it up in a short amount of time. As far as I was concerned, coming up with a detailed plan and isolating the tasks required to do the project was a waste of time and a pain in the ass.
Nevertheless, I would often find myself in the position of having to come up with detailed plans and estimate the time it would take to complete each task, after which I’d have to cope with a manager who would then want to sit down with me on a regular basis to go over said list, checking off the tasks that had been completed and to see if my estimates for the time required to finish the remaining tasks and finish the project. At times, I would be halfway done with a project before I delivered the estimate, at which point I would turn in an estimate showing the tasks that were already finished and a list of the things that had yet to be started. And of course I’d get chewed out for doing things that way, but hey, the project was half finished, so who cared, right?
My manager, of course, was less interested in whether I could do something than in knowing how I’d do it so he could pass it on to someone else. Which I never quite understood. Why do I have to come up with what I thought it would take a junior programmer to complete a project when I knew I could finish it in a couple of long days?
So I developed a system: when asked to estimate a project, I’d figure out what it would take me to get it done, double it and add 30 hours. If a project would take me 20 hours, I would give an estimate of 70 hours. If they asked me to justify it, I’d come up with a plan (research, 7 hours; coding, 35 hours; testing and debugging, 28 hours) that did just that. And more often than not, that was how long it took.
Ain’t I a stinker?