Time Estimating and Duration WorkFlow

I often find myself underestimating the time it takes to perform certain tasks within a project. This often leads to me over-committing when I look at OmniFocus and I only show for five items to do on a particular day.
I was curious to see if any of you use time estimates or durations in OmniFocus and how you may have incorporated it into your workflows or even your calendars.
Thanks in advance.

I’ve used duration mostly for repeating tasks. Most of my single one-off tasks don’t have a duration.

I’ve use a Quickie custom perspective that shows available tasks with a duration of 10 minutes or less. I’ll look at Quickie when I have a small time window of 10 minutes or less and just complete one of the tasks in here.

Estimating time is a struggle that I am always facing. Sometimes it feels like I’m micro-managing my tasks and should just let it go. But I do enter estimated duration for my repeating tasks which tends to be administrative tasks. An Admin task is any task that provides maintenance or upkeep of my current life situation. It doesn’t advance any goals. Examples are grass cutting to avoid any homeowner association penalties, performing weekly reports, and paying the monthly insurance payments.

If I have time between major projects, I’ll squeeze in a repeating task.

I also include a 2-5 minute buffer time between tasks so that I can transition between contexts if needed.

I also like to schedule tasks into Fantastical. If I drag a task with a duration from the OmniFocus window to Fantastical, it will create an appointment and honor the estimated duration. I probably won’t do something if I don’t schedule it.

I use OmniFocus as my bucket list. It contains all of my available actions to work on. In the morning, I schedule one appointment to work on a big project. Then I leave time around it for the smaller tasks (20 minutes or less). I also schedule one big project for the afternoon and then work on smaller tasks around that appointment.

I see you have 5 items for the day. Schedule them. In my case, I schedule 8:30 am - 9:30 am for Big Item #1. After I complete item #1, I might squeeze in a quickie or two. Then I might start Big item #2 for 10:00 am to 11:00 am. After 11 am, I can try to work on another couple of quickies.

After lunch, I’ll repeat the same workflow where I work on Big item #3 then a couple of quickies and then Big item #4. If I get lucky, I can squeeze in Big item #5 at the end of the day.

In my life, I also have interruptions with customers walking in. So I need the flexibility to just move things to accommodate the clients.

Estimating time is difficult. It’s easier to estimate tasks that you’ve routinely done. I usually overestimate by 30 minutes if it’s a task I’m not familiar with or am trying for the first time. I’m learning on the job when working on a task. I’ll record the estimated duration if I know it’s going to become a repeating task. Then I’ll try to fine-tune things and see if I can do it faster the second and third time.

I find estimated duration of value mostly for repeating admin tasks. For those one-off tasks, I’ll just add 30 minutes as a buffer overflow. Hopefully I won’t go over that.

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