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Powerful People Less Likely to Budget Time Correctly

Why You Might Be Underestimating Your Time

If you consider yourself a powerful and effective worker, you may be underestimating how long it will take you to get your business done. Recent research suggests that powerful people can be overly optimistic about the time it takes for them to accomplish tasks — and therefore less likely to make an accurate prediction. The error rate for these so-called "powerful people" can reach up to 70 percent. To see why, keep reading.

The study noted:

Interestingly, people often underestimate the time it takes to accomplish tasks. This bias is known as the planning fallacy and derives from a too-narrow focus on the envisaged goal. The more people focus on what they want to achieve, the more they tend to neglect impediments, previous experiences and task subcomponents that are not readily apparent. As a result, time predictions are often inaccurate and too optimistic. Power tends to increase people's focus on intended outcomes. Although this can be beneficial, in the context of time planning we reasoned that power would lead to greater error in forecasts.

The big picture? It seems high-up workers — like managers — have more faith in their abilities than those who are less empowered. I'm sold on these findings. Who hasn't been overly confident about their super speed or had a boss bark orders about how easy and quick a project should be?

Join The Conversation
chequettex chequettex 7 years
I'm a pretty good estimator of how much time something will take to do, but when someone asks me how long something will take I'll usually tack on a little extra time in my answer, because things happen, and in most situations it's better have too much time than too little. It also looks good when you get something done quicker than budgeted.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
i always overestimate as well...i really manage my time and i end up being bored at the end of some days because i built so much time in...not all days though!! but the days when i'm off my rocker busy it's because we've had emergency tasks i've had to deal with
robinlh912 robinlh912 7 years
I always underestimate. I somehow think doing an assignment will take an hour, but I don't factor in facebook, this website, tv, etc. I just think I'm that awesome and can get stuff done really quick I guess! Haha! Now back to that paper should have been done this afternoon...
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I always OVERestimate how long it will take me to do things. I have certain things I have to get done in a day and I sometimes stress about finishing everything, but I always manage to do it all. I am incredibly industrious and I don't dink around at work.
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