Asking for Advice and Support

As part of my effort to treat my thesis completion like a project, and thus to learn more about (and update my existing knowledge of) project management, last weekend I asked a question of my Facebook friends: “What is the best advice you could give to someone planning a project for the first time?” I have summarized the suggestions here and have saved some other suggestions which were very academic-work/thesis focused for another post.

The advice included (in the order it was received):

  • Don’t get thrown off by, or blame yourself for, unexpected hiccups.
  • Break down tasks and plot them on a timeline using Excel.
  • Plan backwards from the desired result.
  • Scope, schedule, quality: pick two.
  • Seek out mentors, learn from others who have done similar work.
  • Recognize the importance of good, clear, communication.
  • Relationship building.
  • Brain dump all the project information and then organize it.

One of the things I have struggled with in the past is reaching out to others for help and support. I used to work in IT and I think I worked well with the project procedures that were in place within those organizations. However, more recently, I planned our wedding and I completely failed when it came to delegating and asking for support. I was so afraid of getting into conflict over the plans for the wedding that I basically didn’t share much and took on way too much myself. I don’t *think* I was anywhere near that stereotypical ‘Bridezilla’ caricature (which is offensive anyway) but I ended up exhausted and there were a whole lot of things which would have been better if I had recruited some more help. Lesson learned. When I thought about using and exploring different project management and execution techniques in the writing-up process of my thesis, I figured that I should look for some advice especially seeing as I have plenty of friends with really diverse and interesting professional lives and expertise. In the spirit of using this support network and trying new things I am going to take each of these snippets of advice seriously and try to implement them. I’ll post my progress. I think the first two I’ll take on are to plot my timeline on Excel (which I haven’t used in ages – yikes!) and also do some backwards planning as part of that. My allotted completion time expires in September this year. I would LOVE to have a full draft by then.

I have also tried to be better about saying no to distractions this week. When Z naps, I have to work on my thesis. I’m not answering the phone during this time, I’m not accepting invitations to hang out, and I’m not letting other things off our (massive) to-do list creep into that time. So far, so good, but I am one measly week in. I have two more days (this weekend) to get that Epistemology section in decent-draft shape. C’mon Georgia!

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