I confess that a few weeks ago I was leaving work at the end of the day, and as I was backing out of my parking space I got an alert on my iPhone. It said, “You are twelve minutes from home.” I had never received a message of this kind before. My first thought was, who is this & how the heck did they know I’m going home right now? It was a little freaky. My next thought was, eleven minutes my arse… I’ll be home in seven.
It took me eleven minutes on the dot. My iPhone has magic powers.
The next morning I got in my car and this message popped up telling me I was eleven minutes from 515 S. Ridgeview, the address of the church office. I was in fact going to the office. Impressive, and it took me exactly eleven minutes. Okay, the phone is generating this stuff, but how? It’s not from my calendar, and it only pops up at random times–usually when I am in fact headed to home or the office. Is this thing learning my patterns? I know I could Google it and figure out what the function is, but I’m enjoying the mystery.
This magical function doesn’t always work perfectly. Every single Sunday morning my alarm goes off at 5:20. I pack everything up the night before so I can walk out the door before 5:30. This is perhaps my most consistent pattern. But, the iPhone never anticipates that trip. I keep waiting, because at that time of day the traffic lights change for me instantly. I can sometimes make the trip in less than five minutes. This morning it popped up and told me that I was eleven minutes from work. Ha! Suck it. I’m going to a coffeeshop this morning… maybe I am smarter than my phone.
Here’s the thing; this random message started me wondering–just how many categories of my life are there in which I’m drastically overestimating my capabilities?
Most of the time my iPhone tells me I’m eleven or twelve minutes from work, while in my mind it’s only seven minutes, maybe eight or nine when there’s a lot of traffic. So the best case scenario is that I’m overestimating my capabilities by 18.2%. What if I’m overestimating all of my abilities by that same percentage?
Am I 18.2% less funny than I thought I was? What if I’m 18.2% worse as a dad, or a pastor? Is my ability as a writer somewhere around 18.2% lower than I thought it was? That would explain some rather disappointing book sales numbers. You can see that there are many places I could go with this particular neurosis. My wife and I are going to have to have a talk.
I’m not sure this is helpful information to have about myself. However, if the trend only applies to time, then it could be a good number to keep in mind. I consistently underestimate the amount of time it’s going to take to get to the places I need to go. Ten minutes late is like on time for me. I’ve always called this an ADHD thing, and have owned it by telling myself and others that I’m always running late. Maybe I’m not running late so much as I’m underestimating how long it will take me to do everything I do.
What would be the impact of correcting all time estimates by 18.2%? Should I add an extra 18.2% on the time I allot to get to a lunch appointment, or write a book? If I could successfully make the change, would I get 18.2% more done in my day? Would I be 18.2% more effective? Would I be 18.2% more happy? What if other people actually enjoy the fact that I’m always ten minutes late? What if it’s part of my charm–assuming I have charm of course–and it ends up having the opposite effect?
I confess that I have no way to conclude this blog post, other than to acknowledge that it probably took around 18.2% longer to complete it than I thought it would.
Ok, I made my confession. Now it’s time for you to make yours…