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Deadlines are a leading cause of conflict between a client and a developer. When working full time for a single client most of these issues are solved by the client setting up very well-defined priorities. The problem as a freelancer comes when a client comes back with an urgent need and you are already committed. These types of situations should be discussed upfront.

I have used a “rule of X2” method for determining deadlines (this is absolute best case). The way this works is like this:

  • Take the project hours and times them by 2 and divide by the 8-hour work day and round up.
  • Add a day to be able to start the project / task. (on a bigger projects this might be a couple days)
  • Add 1-2 days per month for time away from work.
  • Factor in any holidays (I am using the US stock market to determine my holidays).

BusinessDaysNeededx = ((( EstimatedProjectHours * 2 ) + (DaysToStart * 8) + (DaysOffWork * 8) + (Holidays * 8)/ 8)
BusinessDaysNeededx = round(BusinessDaysNeededx)

Live Version of My Timeline Calculator:



Explanations for My Above Timeline Guideline:

Project Hours Multiplied by 2.
There are two reasons why a “20 hour” project is not done in 2.5 business days (or 20 hours). I will list them both and provide a clear explanation for each one.

1 – Other urgent issues can come up. This can be from the same client or a different one, but not allowing padding for multi-tasking will at some point lead to a broken promise or commitment. In the case of agency work, the end client should understand that they are not the only client in the world and allow that the developer(s) working on their project may have other commitments.

2 – Waiting for feedback will eat up the hours in a work day. Even if the client / end client is extremely responsive, the start and stop time waiting for feedback will mean that the project is not being worked on.

Adding at Least a Day to Start the Task or Project.

Unless it is a live fix on a broken website, I always allow a day to be able to get started with a project. I try to complete simple task within the same day to keep work moving. In the agency world, all this goes back to the communication with the end client in setting expectations up front.

Adding 1-2 Days for Time Away from Work.

I think that it is 100% reasonable for a responsible worker, employee or contractor to have “days off”. I probably Average just over 1 day off a month. Setting a timeline without this factored in will at some point lead to a missed deadline.

Off on Holidays.
I love my holidays! The last thing I want to be doing is working on a holiday. I determine my holidays based on the stock market in the largest economy in the world (US Stock Market).  My only deviation from this would be that I consider the Friday after Thanksgiving a non-work day as many of my clients are shut down for the weekend anyway.

By the Numbers.
Using my “rule of X2” math and some real-world examples and dates, I will set some estimated completion dates based on urgent deadlines.

Example 1:

Project Type: Landing Page
Project Hours: 6
Project Approved Date: November 11th, 2017
Project Start Date: November 13th, 2017
Project Estimated Completion Date: November 16th, 2017

How I came up with this date:
The project started on a “Friday” (November 11th, 2017), I gave myself until the next business day to start on Monday (November 13th, 2017). To come up with the deadline / timeline, I took “6 hours” and times by 2, which is 12 and dived by the 8-hour work day to get 1.5 (days). I then rounded up the 1.5 days to get to 2 full working days. This is a short project so I would not anticipate a need to factor the 1-2 days a month “time away from work” factor, but to be safe and with any fixes I set the due date for November 16th, 2017.

Example 2:

Project Type: Full CMS Build (WordPress)
Project Hours: 30
Project Approved Date: November 11th, 2017
Project Start Date: November 13th, 2017
Project Estimated Completion Date: November 27th, 2017

How I came up with this date:
The project started on a “Friday” (November 11th, 2017), I gave myself until the next business day to start on Monday (November 13th, 2017). To come up with the deadline / timeline, I took “30 hours” and times by 2, which is 60 and dived by the 8-hour work day to get 7.5 (days). I then rounded up the 7.5 days to get to 8 full working days. This is a longer project so I would anticipate a need to factor the 1-2 days a month “time away from work” factor. I set the “time away from work factor” at +1. This means the total “business day” needed to complete this project is 9 days. Using this math, this would take the completion date to November 23rd, 2017 which happens to be Thanksgiving. The next work day for me would be Monday, November 27th, 2017.

The above is not an absolute science and there will be dependences such as well understood instructions we well as prompt client/ end client feedback.  One thing I try to avoid is setting a go live date or a critical must have date on a Friday or prior to a holiday as I am not available over the weekends / holidays to work.

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