Any task you planning to tackle will always take longer than you expect, “even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law” in other word, even if you know that a given project is likely to overturn, and you adjust your schedule accordingly, it will overrun your new estimated finishing time too

Whatever you plan, you gonna miss it!

I’m following productivity tools for past most than a decade, and teaching teams and people on productivity, time management and planning and prioritisation for past 10 years, and I came across this law!

It’s like I’m getting answers to my never ending grinding of brain to be “more productive” and get my inbox zero!

It never happens, even if it happens, it stays that way for short while to be more frustrated and more demanding on self to be more productive, it’s never ending quest to be more efficient.

So the crux of this law is, even if you give yourself a standard advice during planning to give yourself twice as much as time needed for activities that your think you needed, could actually make matter worst, I.e failing in meeting that too.

This law is everywhere. We are so used to it, we just ignore it. However great companies are, however they are full of “planners” and “project departments”, they all face the same ire and same sense of “falling behind schedule”. Whether it’s Airbus delaying and messing up with A380, or Boing messing up with its upcoming human space flight (I’m sure both companies pride themselves for best of the best talents on world for risk based planning of their project. But here we are. Whether it’s desi L&T, having one of the biggest project departments in India, messing with timelines on each and every projects (ahmm… sea link) or Reliance for that matter. Or take our daily failure of estimating in how much time it will take to pick up the groceries on the way home from work. I underestimate each time. It’s so evident, but it’s so hidden.

With much fanfare for this project, it’s what I understand 1/5th of whole scope, and not taking about cost escalations and timelines.

This is little unsettling, because the law seems true, certainly seems to be in my experience ~ it suggest something very strange : that the activities we try to plan for somehow actively resist our efforts to make them conform to our plans


Our effort to be come good planners, not only fails but causes things to take longer still. To be fair, specially during pandemic, whenever me and my partner tried to book some vacation in advance, eventually failed to execute due to last minute lock down announcements (planners are missing may be) or something at work didn’t stick to the plan.

Trouble with so emotionally invested in planning for future my whole life is though, while it occasionally prevent a catastrophe, the rest of the time it tend to exacerbate the very anxiety it was supposed to take care. Non stop reviews of plan, anxiety on probable delays and upcoming delays, so much so, small success of achieving a milestone was getting overwhelmed by upcoming doubts on future millstones and actions to avoid those future delays, misses the opportunity on applauding what went great with last achieved milestones.

No one is certain about future, specially you can never be truly certain about the future, when we don’t see present and appreciate it.

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