In the previous post I was talking about the historical data of our life, and how we could use that to improve our life. Now that we have our historical data, it’s time to start working on the planning.
- Working on the forecast
What is exactly a forecast? It’s an assumption of the future, based on historical patterns (see, this is why I was speaking about the importance of the historical data). For example, if you spent 1h to work on something in the past, probably it will take you 1h to work on it in the future as well. If you usually spend 100$/week, you could assume that next week you will do the same.
One thing you should know about the forecasts. Most of the time, they don’t happen. Well, not 100%. And let’s be honest, if we would be able to predict something 100% of the time, we would win the lottery all the time.
Your forecast won’t be 100%, but you can take some margins to work with. A 20% margin is a good start. This means that you could expect that your forecast to go 20% above, or below your prediction. When you will become a little bit more experimented and you know yourself better, you can go with a smaller margin, about 10 or maybe 5. It will be up to you to establish your limits.
Why we need to take a margin of realisation? Well, because we need to evaluate what we did at some point. Keep in mind this. We will come back to it.
It might be a little bit of a stretch, but you could see forecast as setting up a goal. It’s something that you expect to achieve in the future. And knowing your goals, realistic goals I might add, you can take the appropriate steps to achieve them.
- The shrinkage
Shrinkage is a type of data that WFM works with. We monitor it, forecast it and overall we try to keep it down as low as possible. What is shrinkage you might ask? Shrinkage is the scheduled hours that you lose, because of various reasons (in a call center it might be because of an agent that got ill, or was later or he didn’t show up).
But let’s take a step outside of WFM area and see the shrinkage elements that might appear in the day to day life. Let’s say I want to write an article for this blog, or a chapter for my novel, from 5 to 7 AM, each day. But in this time, while I’m writing, I’m also spending time on Facebook, checking my e-mail and looking for videos on YouTube. Those other things that I do, besides writing, that is my shrinkage.
Let’s take another example. You go shopping, you have your list of groceries that you have to buy. You have them and head to the cashier. But on the road there, you see a nice chocolate bar, and you start to have a crave for it; and that craves is so bad, to you reach your hand and put that chocolate bar in the basket. That as well is your shrinkage.
Shrinkage is basically everything outside of your planning.
It’s important to know what you’re shrinkage is, because this way you know where you lose either money or time. Of course, sometimes unexpected thing could happen as well. But this is why we keep an watch on our shrinkage, and we forecast it as well. When you know what happened in the past, you can prepare for the unexpected.
- Calculating the requirement and doing the schedule
When we are creating a schedule, we have to know firstly the requirement. This so called requirement is basically the resources that we need to achieve our forecast. Let’s take an example to understand better.
I work at a web novel called “Imperial Struggle“. In the past weeks I’ve written 2 chapters per week. But I know that I can do better, if I work after a certain schedule and if I keep my shrinkage to a minimum. So I want next week to work 3 chapters, instead of 2. From start to finish, editing included, a chapter takes me 2-3 hours to write. Because I write at this mostly in the morning, I’m expecting to spend between 1 and 2 days to publish a chapter. So my schedule for next week it’s to write each day, 2 hours/day. And by the end of the week I should have published 3 chapters of my web novel.
When you are doing the schedule, you basically cover the resources necessary to fill in the forecast. As you can see in my example above, I took into consideration my shrinkage as well. I know that I will spend some time not writing and will watch some videos on YouTube.
Making a schedule it isn’t necessarily restricted to scheduling the time. You can schedule your money as well, on the exact same principle of scheduling. When you plan a vacation don’t you divide the money for various activities or spending categories?
This is the end of part II. In part III I will write about the intraday management and how you can make improvements to your process.
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