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Critical deadline approaching? Slow down!

When the pressure rises, our instincts tell us to ‘Work harder!’ But what if we’ve got it all wrong? These tips can help you take a more effective approach instead of pointlessly racking up the hours.

Let’s imagine we’re just a few weeks away from a critical deadline. Management is getting anxious. As a project manager, you tell them that your team is going to have to work 20 hours a day to finish everything on time.

4pm: We need to get a version of the client’s software up and running by tomorrow morning.

5pm: Last minute fixes. Everyone gets busy.

6.30pm: Everyone goes home except for two co-workers who will get everything ready for tomorrow morning.

7pm: Surprise – it’s the wrong version! The whole project is now on hold: everything is delayed because of an oversight.

Working 20 hours a day? Pointless – or even counterproductive.

This morning, I read that 20% of workplace accidents happen to people who sleep fewer than 7 hours a night and work more than 50 hours a week. Maybe it’s time to shift the paradigm.

A few pointers:

  • Limit the number of hours worked in a row

  • Take the time to prioritise tasks

  • Start with the most important tasks

  • Be a pessimist when scheduling – leave time for unexpected issues

  • Opt for quality over quantity

  • Take regular breaks

And most importantly, don’t give in to panic. It’s always better to do less but to do it well!

What about you ? Do you have similar or different experiences? Let me know, I'll be happy to discuss it with you!

Artwork : Mélanie Bénard Tremblay, 2019, © Marakoudja.

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