The Master Plan vs. Reality


I posted two screenshots on instagram today. One of my grading plan for Tuesday and another of what actually happened.

A fellow academic mama commented and asked if I edit my calendar as the day goes by to reflect what actually happens, noting that this would be a super helpful strategy for visualizing how much time things actually take vs. a potentially overly optimistic estimation of how long they will take!

It’s funny, because I don’t know that I was even thinking of this as a strategy I use to help me plan, but it definitely is (and I did it without realizing it). So, thank you Jamie (dontworryteach) for making this explicit!

I started off with a plan to grade 1 essay every 15 minutes, taking 15 minute breaks after I got through 4.

Right off the bat, I realized grading was not going to go as smoothly as I planned since the first paper took me ~30 minutes to grade. I kept looking at the clock and getting anxious about not getting more done (because I had to stick to my plan!).

After getting frustrated that things weren’t going according to my plan, I thought, you know what, I’m just going to track what actually happens so I can come back to it the next time I’m grading essays and remind myself that some will take more time and others will take less time.

I did notice that even though I wasn’t doing one every 15 minutes, I did manage to grade 12 before lunch time, which was what I originally planned. Those 4 right before lunch went really quickly, perhaps because I’d gotten into a groove.

After lunch was a different story. I hit all sorts of resistance.

I wanted to do anything but grade (like call my insurance company to ask why I got a random bill in the mail… who actually wants to do that?!).

My brain was telling me I’d had enough for the day… but I was also thinking of the fact that my future self would thank me if I finished them up that day so I slowly struggled through it.

Anyhow, just wanted to share a quick tip for troubleshooting challenges with your estimation of time.

I’m also a fan of doing a more thorough time tracking audit, but that is a post for another day!