Famous last words: “It will only take five minutes”

March 20th, 2017 | Categories: walking randomly | Tags:

I’ve worked with computers for a long time. Decades in fact, and yet I still routinely make the same rookie mistake when discussing how long a computer-related job is going to take. Programming, sysadmin, installing a game….whatever….things almost always take much longer than I expect them to. This is true even when I take the previous statement into account.

This morning, for example, I am supposed to be on annual leave but I needed to set up a license server for a new product that a colleague of mine has just  bought. The plan was ‘Get up really early, take the dog out for morning walk and get this work done before my wife is even out of bed.’ I’d then make breakfast in bed and be the model geek-husband.

I figured it would take about 5 minutes….I’ve administered dozens of network license servers for thousands of users. Nothing phases me in this area…..I am supremely confident.  Since I know that things take longer than expected, I gave myself an hour to do this 5 minute job and set the alarm clock. This morning, I woke up before the alarm and and ended up with a whole 2 hours to do this 5 minute job.

How prepared am I?!

4 hours later, I still can’t get the chuffing thing to work and I’m wondering when on Earth I’ll ever learn…..

  1. March 20th, 2017 at 12:43
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Hofstadter’s law strikes again.

  2. March 20th, 2017 at 14:58
    Reply | Quote | #2

    On the other hand, there are things I put off for days because I feel like they are so complex that I really need to think about how to do them, but once I sit down to actually do them, they might just take 5 minutes.

  3. March 21st, 2017 at 19:34
    Reply | Quote | #3

    I, as a web programmer, have a golden rule: real_task = 3 x virtual_task