I’ve recently heard a phrase that changed my perspective on time management: “if you don’t have time, how can you manage it?“
When I ask hyperproductive developers how they keep up with everything, they usually reply: “I don’t think about it; I just focus on getting things done.“
There is something off about those two statements. The developer who asks herself how to avoid working all day probably feels that one day is not enough to get everything done.
Then the question is: how many days do I need to get everything done?
This is a daily time budget problem. Assuming you sleep 8 hours per day, you have 16 awake hours. You can subtract at least two hours with breakfast, a snack, and dinner. That’s 14 raw hours per day, not including showers, commuting, or meetings time.
Now, I use a personal formula based on my experience: whatever time is available, divide it by 2. Whatever you think a task will take, multiply by 2.
That means you have seven hours available per day, and if you have a task that will take you seven hours (or a full day), it will take two days.
Whether you do the math for your development team or they do it for themselves, avoid fooling yourself by saying that you hired super humans that don’t need to sleep, exercise, social interact, and have fun.
Once your sprint plan is ready, the next level is to plan to get one thing done, per developer, per day.