Commentary, July 2011
Marisa Johnson, NAEP Intern
Beat the Deadline
It’s hard enough to concentrate when your co-worker is blasting hits from the 80s, but it’s even harder when the sun is shining in your office window as if it was summoning you to come outside and enjoy it. Summer is back and it’s not leaving for another 82 days, so get started on those projects and stop watching the clock. The following are tips that I’ve learned to not only meet, but beat, those pressing deadlines of everyday work.
- Ask Questions – If your boss assigns you a project and you have NO CLUE as to what they want, it’s best not to try to work it out on your own. Ask questions and get clarity or else you may find yourself stressed out and swamped with extra work. Sometimes the task at hand is simpler than you think, so don’t overthink it and ask questions to fill in any gaping holes.
- Schedule Ahead – When you’re given a specific date/deadline, plan to finish your work at least two days (if not more) ahead of time. You never know if something spectacular may come up, like a free concert with your favorite artist, and you’ll be stuck inside doing work. This has happened to me on one too many occasions.
- Plan for the Worst - Things always seem to come up at the wrong time, so make sure you’re a step ahead. If one of your team members falls ill, make sure you have access to any files or documentation you need from them. Learn to think outside of the box with most situations so that you can complete work before it has been asked of you.
- Make a Visible Schedule – It’s easier to plan out your work schedule when you can see it right in front of you. Plan out your work schedule and place it where you can see it every day and make adjustments when necessary.
- Set Priorities – Sometimes multiple projects coincide. It is up to you to prioritize them as to what needs to be completed first and what can be put off. Make sure to note anything that is labeled as urgent.
- Don’t Procrastinate – Some of us thrive at doing things at the last minute, but for most of us it’s a total disaster. I wait until the last minute to write my Purchasing Link article because I know my writing style and my topic choice is always changing, but not everyone can do that. Scheduling ahead leaves room for procrastination, but don’t let procrastination take up all your time.
- Don’t Rush – On the contrary, when you rush to finish something, the quality usually diminishes. Make sure you’re able to complete all that is asked of you. If it helps, create a checklist and check off items as you go.
- Concentrate/Focus – If possible, focus on one project/task at a time. Sometimes when multitasking, things get mixed up. It helps to concentrate on what is right in front of you and to finish a project in its entirety rather than completing small parts.
- Send Out Reminders – When working in a group, sometimes group members get forgetful. Don’t be afraid to be a pest. If your co-worker’s lackadaisical behavior is causing you to fall behind, kindly send a reminder, and then another, and if need be another, until they complete what has been assigned.
- PM Triangle (Keep in mind) – The project management (PM) triangle is always good to keep in mind and ties all of the previous tips together. Time, Cost and Scope are the three constraints that can make or break the quality of a project. Proper balance of these three items will bring optimal success to any project.
I may not have the most work experience, but I am sure my tips could help any college student or seasoned professional optimize their fun in the sun. Enjoy your summer!
We here at the National Office would like to wish Marisa the best of luck as her last day with us will be June 30th. Marisa graduated on May 23rd with a Bachelor of Science Degree in the field of Information Systems. We'll miss you, Marisa, and wish you nothing but the best!
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