Finish Any Job On Time

in #news4 years ago (edited)

Introduction

Some time ago I began to write what I thought might become an eBook I could market on Kindle or a website or someplace. However, my efforts were always overtaken by events, and now I suspect that I will not finish what was originally conceived as a combination of a book (or booklet) and a computer application that would assist in following the rules presented in the book.

Since I have discovered Steemit.com I am going to publish what I have in hopes that someone will find it insightful and useful.

The context of the original concept was that of one or more persons working on a job for someone else, and it is explained in that context. Nevertheless, it applies to any job in any context – even a job you are doing for yourself by yourself.

Also, the title applies only in cases where it is possible. For example, Dr. Fredrick P. Brooks, in his book, The Mythical Man-Month said, "Nine women cannot make a baby in one month." Some jobs are impossible to finish in an arbitrary time frame.

Details

The techniques and rules and considerations explained in this booklet were developed over the last several years of a career of more than forty years as a computer programmer, but they are not limited to programming jobs. In fact, they seem generally applicable to any job: single-person jobs, multi-person team jobs, office jobs, construction jobs, almost any kind of jobs.

For single-person jobs the techniques seem to fit directly and are easy to understand in that context. For multi-person jobs, the techniques apply directly to the team as a whole and to each individual in the team. They even apply to individuals within the team when others are not aware of or are not using them.

Consider any job. It can be broken down into a number of subordinate jobs which, when completed, complete the original job. The techniques can be applied to each and every subordinate job as well as to the original job.

For each individual, jobs can be divided into one of three classes:

  • jobs the person does not know how to do,
  • jobs the person knows how to do but does not like to do, and
  • jobs the person knows how to do and likes to do.

These three classes lead to basic rules which are the foundation of the technique’s rules and considerations herein explained.

The basic rules are:

  • Plan what you are going to do.
  • Get your priorities straight.
    • Do what you don’t know how to do first.
    • Do what you know how to do but don’t like to do second.
    • Do what you know how to do and like to do last.
  • You are definitely behind schedule until only jobs you know how to do and like to do are left to be done, and you may be behind schedule even then.
    • When you are behind schedule, work extra time each day and each week.

The basic rules have subordinate rules:

  • Plan what you are going to do.
    • Make a list of every task that you can think of that has to be done to complete the job.
      • This will probably require several iterations since reading over the list of tasks will inspire the recognition of other tasks not yet listed.
  • Get your priorities straight.
    • Order the tasks so that the first task in the list is the first task to be completed, and the second task is the second to be completed, and so forth. (Following sections, Procedures and Detailed Steps, describe how to accomplish this.)
    • Do what you don’t know how to do first.
      • If you must complete some tasks you know how to do before you can work on a task you don’t know how to do, complete them as expeditiously as possible –you are behind schedule as long as there are tasks you don’t know how to do.
      • Try to learn as much as possible about the task you don’t know how to do while you are getting to the point where you can begin to work on it – you are behind schedule, so spend your own time after hours to study and learn.
    • Do what you know how to do but do not like to do second.
      • Be careful not to underestimate how long this type of task will take.
      • Since you don’t like to do it, it will necessarily take you longer than an equivalent task you like to do.
    • Do what you know how to do and like to do last.
      • Be careful not to underestimate how long this type of task will take.
      • Even though you like to do the task you will have periods when you don’t feel like really working, and this will necessarily slow you down.
      • You are definitely behind schedule until only jobs you know how to do and like to do are left to be done, and you may be behind schedule even then.
      • When you are behind schedule, work extra time each day and each week.
    • Try to negotiate with your supervisor, boss, employer or whatever so that if you finish a job ahead of schedule you are free to take the time off with no adverse financial effects.

Negotiate

You may be wondering what you have to negotiate, but consider the following.

If you follow the techniques described in this little book, you will be spending more than your normal amount of time each day in the early stages of your job, and you may even finish the entire job before the deadline. Now suppose you are paid $400 for working a 40-hour week. That is like making $10 per hour. So if you work an extra couple of hours each day for the same $400 per week that will be like making $8.00 per hour. You have just given yourself a 20 percent pay cut, and you may never recover the lost pay.

Also, if you really front-load your efforts you may finish your part of the job well before the deadline. If that happens, would you be expected to do other work, or could you get paid time off until the deadline? Just like the previously described situation, this is a question that requires negotiation because you could be seriously underpaid for your efforts.

You should now be convinced that you must negotiate, so the question becomes, “How?”

Your best bet is probably to show your boss a copy of this little book, let him read it, and then tell him that you are willing to do as much as you can to see that your part of the job gets finished on or before the deadline. But you have to also tell him that since you will probably be putting in a lot of extra hours up front in the project you don’t want to get screwed over at the end of the job by having to work, in effect, without pay for both the extra hours up front and the hours from the time you finish your part of the job to the deadline.

There are a number of ways that this can be resolved, and which one is chosen will largely depend upon how much authority your boss has to negotiate such things. If your boss doesn’t have the authority, ask him to show this book to his boss and so on up the chain of command until someone is reached with the authority to negotiate.

If you are a salaried employee, you will likely not be paid for each and every hour you work, but there are still several ways in which you could get some compensation for your extra efforts.

  1. You get paid for each and every extra hour you work.
  2. You get paid vacation hours for each and every extra hour you work.
  3. You get paid for some part of the extra hours you work.
  4. You get paid vacation hours for some part of the extra hours you work.

Procedures.

Make a list of all the tasks required to complete the job

Sort the list into three groups:
1. Things you don’t know how to do
2. Things you know how to do but don’t like to do
3. Things you know how to do and like to do

Now divide each of the three groups into two sub-groups:
1. Those things that can be done immediately
2. Those things that can only be done after one or more other things are done

Detailed Steps

  1. Make a list of all the tasks
  2. Divide the tasks into three groups
    1. Those that you don’t know how to do
    2. Those you know how to do but don’t like to do
    3. Those that you know how to do and like to do
  3. Order the tasks in each group from most difficult to least difficult
    1. This is subjective but important.
  4. Mark each task with the letter id of its group (A, B, C for groups 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3, respectively.) and a space for an indicator whose use will be described later.
  5. Make a single list of tasks by appending group B to group A and appending group C to the result
  6. Reorder the entire list according to the following procedure which will put all required tasks before any task that depends upon them.
    1. Locate the first task in the list with a blank indicator – if there is none, go to step 7.
    2. Begin scanning the list from that point forward until a task is found that must be completed before the task located in step 6.1 can be started or until there are no more tasks in the list.
      1. If a task is found, move it immediately before the task located in step 6.1 and set its indicator to blank then go to step 6.1
      2. If the end of the list is reached, set the indicator in the task located in step 6.1 to “X” to indicate completion of the process of finding tasks that that task depends upon, and then go to step 6.1
  7. Arrival here means that the list has all of the tasks in the order they must be completed to complete the overall job according to the rules and procedures described here.

Motivations

You might think that some (or even all) of my rules and procedures are not useful, but try to imagine various cases in which rules are not followed, especially when the job must be finished by Monday and it is now Friday morning and you have more than 72 hours of jobs that you either don’t like to do or don’t know how to do.

Finally, the importance of getting your priorities straight early in the process cannot be overstated. To that end I have a brief story that illustrates both the importance and the joy of accomplishing that:

Two bulls were standing on the top of a hill overlooking a lush grassy valley in which many cows were grazing. The younger bull was snorting and stamping his feet. He was even jumping up and down straight-legged, like a cartoon character. The old bull was just standing there calmly looking around.

Finally the younger bull couldn’t stand it any longer. He turned to the old bull and said, “Let’s run down the hill and have sex with a cow.”

The old bull turned to look at the younger bull, raised one eyebrow, and said, “Lets walk down the hill and have sex with them all.”

So, get your priorities straight.

#selfimprovement