It is over. I delivered the video and everyone is happy with the results: the bride and groom, the parents, my husband and family. My family are really glad because they won’t have to hear the music anymore.
Weddings seem to create a rather interesting dynamic in the world of project management. No one, and I mean no one, wants to disagree with the bride. She is absolutely right even when the air that she is breathing is largely made up of some rarefied gas that the rest of us don’t get to share. It is like having a sponsor with a single focus on a mandatory delivery date. The only way to meet the target is to ante up the necessary cash and people to make it all happen. When it is all over, the relief is monumental, the bride and groom go on a honeymoon and the everyone else goes into hiding. We hope that all goes well on the honeymoon.
As a favour, I agreed to create a rolling video of family photos with appropriate music and timing. Never having done a job like this, I seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take. Every tweak (better known as a change), no matter how small, caused a major impact on the timing of the video. It is the first time that I really understood that the size of the picture file could affect the timing of the slides and alignment on the music. I have a whole new appreciation for what video and audio editors do. I have also decided it just isn’t the career choice for me.
I was only responsible for the video and audio. We will never know for sure how much time it ‘really’ took Allie to collect all the pictures and put the first cut of the slides together. But I am a project manager, I tracked my actual time. I now know how much time it will take ‘for me’ to create a another self-running version of a slide show with audio. 200 hours! I am told that Allie probably spent 2.5 to 3 hours for every hour that I spent. She had the hard work of prying pictures and stories out of the contributors. The level of effort in retrospect was staggering and it was a volunteer effort.
So the question of the day is ‘how much time does it take to complete those infamous personal tasks on the round-to-it, the honey-do, or if I win the lottery list?’ Most of us don’t know. It isn’t because we can’t collect the information; it is because we think of the work as just something that we do on our personal time. It isn’t important to know how much time something takes at home.
But it is, see the examples below.
Iron a shirt: 15 – 20 minutes a shirt (It is because I was in the military and am overly concerned about the perfect shirt. Knife-edged creases and all that good stuff. If you have 10 shirts at 20 minutes per shirt, it is a whopping 3.5 hours.)
Make dinner: 45 minutes to 4 hours depending on what type of dinner it is. (My apologies to Rachael but I still haven’t mastered the 30 minute meal.)
Shovel the driveway: 3 hours, minimum (We live in the country and have a snow blower. If we had to use a real shovel, it would take all day.)
Making a wedding dress: 100 hours (this is because the bride kept gaining and losing weight and every time she came for a fitting, she was a different size.)
The golden nugget for today is ‘even personal commitments need to be estimated, scheduled, costed, tracked and evaluated for value.’ It sounds strange. But! It is so true.
The lesson is ‘when you think about the number of things that are going on in your life today and wonder how you will get it all done, you are a candidate for project management.’ It is the only way that I know of to finally understand how much time it takes to complete any activity or task. You can start practising project management today. Use the following steps to get started:
- Make a list of activities and / or tasks
- Estimate the amount of time each task will take
- Determine whether you need someone to help you with the task (i.e. plumber, carpenter, child, partner)
- Schedule the work
- Track the amount of time it took to complete the task
- Record the results in a journal
It will make your life much better.