To me, there was nothing more time-consuming and absolutely fruitless than writing the specifications (or "specs") for a project. By the time I wrote up the directions on what to do and done the research to determine what programs needed to be changed and how, I could have the thing done. But no, my boss decided that I needed to learn to write specs for junior programmers, so that I’d have time to do the things that a senior programmer analyst did, which as far as I could tell involved taking specs written by someone else (i.e. an outside consultant) and following them.
My boss would come to me with a piece of paper on which a request from someone was written, and say "John, would you estimate this project for me?" and hand me the paper. I’d quicky scan the page and, usually before he had managed to get too far from my desk, I’d say "One week." To come up with that estimate, I would use the centigrade-to-Fahrenheit method (this was in the days before Celsius was invented): figure out how long it would take me, say four hours, then double it and add 30. Thus, 38 hours, i.e. one week.
Linda Hill is in charge of Just Jot It January.