How much of my projected time have I used up? and how much do I have left if I’m going to meet my budget?

Got a pen and a napkin? The following technique is good for quick estimates.

Draw a row of squares (don’t worry about making them even), one for each unit of time you are tracking. Today, I did it with hours—one square per hour. I had projected that an online purchase system would require 12 hours of layout time, so I drew 12 boxes:

Then just X out the hours you’ve used:

Bingo! Five empty squares stare back at me, like clean socks in a drawer.

Make a different row for each arm of the project.

Also, this is how I juggle hours (when I can get away with it). It looked like layout time projections were going to be fine, but we were needing more for meetings and liaison:

Of course, one of the limits is that the different tasks have different costs, but for a quick overall look, I have found this works well.

Now I could call the money person and tell her what had been “spent” (whether it was billed yet, or not) and what was still coming. If she had input, I got another napkin and kept sketching until we were both satisfied. Now it was time to update the planning software on my computer.


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