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Ask HN: Does anyone else time their checklists?
7 points by avk 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments
Does anyone time their checklists or have checklists that would benefit from a timer? I'm thinking of information like how long does a checklist step take, how long does the entire checklist typically take to complete, or when's the last time I did a checklist. I have two small examples in mind where this has been useful:

1. reviewing my finances—and making sure I don't miss any transactions

2. GTD weekly reviews—to make sure I make enough time for a review, especially if I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be

Very curious if anyone else finds it helpful to time their checklists. Or does it suffice to just do a checklist regardless of how long it takes?

I do this and I'm making an app to do this basically. It's a todo list where each task has time associated with it, then you can play the timer to count down while you do the task: https://twitter.com/satvikpendem/status/1446697663479562242?...

The website is at https://getartemis.app but it's still under development.

Combining a timer wither a calendar sounds like an interesting idea! For almost ten years, I've been using my own app for a similar purpose (tracking work productivity and video games), basically a to do list with timer, plus basic filtration to analyze the data. The app is here: https://github.com/Klaster1/timer-5 .

Many things in knowledge work are very hard to time. Even reading a document has huge variance.

I've settled on just two time blocks: morning to lunch and lunch to evening.

Energy level has a very strong effect too, possibly a 10x effect to time. Sometimes I get a thing done in 30 mins, sometimes it takes the whole day. And sometimes I stress out about it taking the whole day, depleting my energy level and it takes two days.

However, it's useful to time routine work, like picking up groceries and meetings. The consistent things anchor the rest of the day.

Can you say more about why it's useful to time routine work?

That's what I'm curious about. A consistent set of steps that you're committed to doing on some frequency—do you see value in timing things like that?

It's more that software is already so unpredictable. A 90% confidence estimate for a task might be 4 hours to 4 months. That's not very useful. Counting routine work would increase accuracy to something like 2 days to 4 months.

I'm not sure if it's better, but we can make some plans around that. The extra control is a little comforting. And it's less demoralising when it's not done by the end of the day.

I like doing it because I can see how much time it takes to fit in my day, since I usually time block my day. It might be routine so I can estimate the time but if I have a lot of tasks, I might over or underestimate and not get everything done that I'd want to.

When I make my todo list for the day, I estimate how long each task will take and write the time I expect to start each one. Since I rarely overestimate, it mostly serves as a way to limit myself to reasonable expectations, but there is the minor benefit of pressuring myself to stay on track for the day.

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