On this episode of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30 Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about reverse time studies. You can listen to this episode of the podcast on iTunes or by using the link below.
Click here to listen: Episode 62, Reverse Time Studies
A reverse time study is where you guess how long something will take and then time yourself and compare the results to see how well you estimate your time. By studying your estimates as compared to how long things actually take, you can learn a lot about yourself, your workflow and whether you are realistic about how long you think things will take. This information will help you with pricing and time management.
Reverse time studies can be eye-opening. In the workroom, every project is custom and different. You may start a project thinking "it's just a couple of pillows", but when you start cutting and sewing you realize that the fabrics, trims, or zippers are taking longer than expected. Has this happened to you? You are not alone. Susan and Ceil admit that they underestimate time. A practice of honest time estimating can help to reduce the guess-work, which builds confidence.
One positive of reverse time studies is that you are setting a time for yourself. If you estimate that it will take 10 minutes to check social media and one hour later you are still scrolling - you can see how easily time can get away from you.
After you practice reverse time studies, you might find a pattern. Do tasks always take 25% longer than you estimated? Twice as long? Don't beat yourself up! Use this information to work smarter. Add 15 minutes to every hour that you estimate, for example. If you are consistently underestimating your time, build this in to all your time estimates. If you purposely overestimate how long it will take and then finish on time, that's a great outcome!
If you are a "people pleaser", you may underestimate time because you think it's what the customer wants to hear. In the long run this doesn't please anyone and you risk disappointing your customer far more than if you had been honest about the time from the start.
Reverse Time Studies: Tips for Success
1) Estimate "bottom-up", where you break the project into parts. Instead of estimating "a pair of draperies", break it down and estimate how long to inspect fabric, then estimate how long to cut, another estimate for sewing together cuts, adding hems, linings and pleating. Adding all the parts together will give you a more accurate estimate of time, and it helps you to recognize all the work that goes into a finished project.
2) Overestimate on purpose.
3) Recognize important tasks such as planning cuts of patterned fabric or working on estimates does take a lot of time. Accept the time as part of the job of owning a custom business.
4) You can feel more joy and confidence by working at a deliberate pace and not a rushed pace. Recognize your pace and embrace it.