4 Time Estimate Tips for Contractors

Here’s something for the smArtists out there! These will hopefully give you an insight into how an employer thinks and how to be a better and smArter contractor. 🙂

  1. Never overpromise. So you have a habit of being inappropriately optimistic with time estimates and are constantly slipping. Recognize the pattern. Realize that when you say two days, it really means four, and then TELL me four. I don’t like having to make mental calculations like “Oh, Poly McArtist says two days, that really means a week.” Sure, it sounds great if you say it can be done super quick, but when you don’t deliver it on time, you lose credibility. If all your time estimates are wrong, shouldn’t you adjust them? Most don’t. I care less about optimism and more about realism.
  2. Don’t get stuck overworking. So you find yourself in situations where your time estimates are out of control and you’re constantly working overtime to make up for it. You have a problem. A lot of artists think that this super high level of ‘hustle’ is a good trait to have and are proud of it. Hard work is great, but not when you have to hustle that hard because you suck at scheduling yourself! Why would a manager keep an artist that a) doesn’t know his own ability and b) constantly creates problems for himself? I’d rather someone deliver work consistently and at a normal intensity instead of getting stuck in the time slipoverwork cycle.
  3. If you’re late, don’t hide. Let’s say you promised me a model on Wednesday, and it’s slipped a week. Tell me. If you’re late delivering me something, don’t hide from me or give me excuses. Just tell me, in advance whenever possible. Don’t be afraid and don’t puss out. It’s a lot worse when you treat me like I’m too stupid to figure it out you’re hiding from me. As if it won’t be a problem just because I can’t find you to ask you where the work is. Yeah, sure, I’m just going to forget you’re a week late and that you’re suddenly never on IM anymore. 🙂
  4. Factor in review time. Art needed by Friday needs to be done and approved on Friday, not just submitted on Friday. Art never gets accepted on the first pass. I have to take a look at it and request changes to be made before it’s considered a finished piece of art. If I say Friday, submit it for first review on Tuesday, expect I’ll get back to you on Wednesday, give yourself Thursday to implement the changes, so by Friday, it’ll be done without any surprise freakshows. This is a fantastically important point that almost nobody thinks about or plans for. Many thanks to Scott Hsu-Storaker for bringing this up in the comments! This is his great suggestion almost word for word. 🙂

Being able to schedule yourself effectively and give realistic time estimates is a huge advantage. There’s a lot of power in saying you’ll do something, then doing it. Ever find yourself impressed by really competent and confident people? This is one of the ways they cultivate that image.

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