Reality Check on “How Long It’s Going to Take”

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Almost every episode of the BBC television series “Dr. Who” features the Tardis, a police booth time-traveling ship that is “bigger on the inside” than it looks from the outside. Unsuspecting visitors are always caught by surprise when they step through the door because they underestimate what they will find inside. And like those visitors, we usually have a distorted view of time and of “how long it’s going to take” when it comes to getting things done in our business.

Have you heard or said these? “I’ll never get done.” “This is going to take all night.” “Boy, I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

It’s like we have an automatic time projector operating in our mind. Unfortunately, it too often gives us a skewed estimate of “how long it’s going to take.”

We look at a project like adding products to a new shopping cart system on our blog and our brain’s time projector flips on. “Oh, this is a biggie. How are you EVER going to get this done? This is going to take weeks.”

So we make lists, allow the project to simmer in the back of our minds and build a mental mountain that gets bigger every day. We’re basically making big preparations for a little fight. Every detail that we put off creates a bigger mountain and causes us to feel more out of control.

When we finally get around to starting the project, we almost always find that it isn’t as hard or painful as we thought and it takes far less time than we estimated.


Our mental magnifying glass was looking at things from up close, and we believed it. Meanwhile we had to deal with the stress and feelings of overwhelm caused by our inaccurate projection.

Sometimes we even focus on how long it took someone else to do a similar project. It scares us, so rather than get started we begin fretting, waiting for the day when we’ll have a large block of time to make room for the job. When we finally get it done, it takes far less time than we thought and we feel a little sheepish for all of our agony.

Often just one 15-minute session on the computer, one phone call or one email can accomplish something that’s been driving you crazy.

Of course there are exceptions when the project ends up taking far longer than you estimated, but most of the time the opposite is true.

Don’t let imaginary time projections take over. The bottom line is that it’s probably not going to hurt as much or take as long as you think.

When your imagination starts running away with you, stop and breathe. Set a timer, work on the big, bad project for 10-15 minutes. Stay aware of what you’re doing to yourself when you make a perverted estimate of “how long it’s going to take.”

We may think that we’re going to open the door on a project and find that it’s bigger on the inside. But I bet you’ll find that it’s just an ordinary, doable task. Re-set your automatic time projector to reality, and don’t let it run away with you.




Charlotte SiemsCharlotte Siems is a happy wife and mom of twelve who is a speaker, author and coach. After losing 100 pounds with T-Tapp, she became a Master T-Tapp Trainer, sharing her encouraging story with people all over the world. She has built a successful online business and writes about family life and T-Tapp at




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10 years ago

Exactly. Thank You!

Terry Gremaux
Terry Gremaux
10 years ago

Expectations are so very important in this industry… that is the sole reason people quit i believe! awesome article!

Kim Garst
Reply to  Terry Gremaux
10 years ago

Thanks for dropping in, Terry!

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