Work Ahead of the Power Curve

Do you ever find yourself scrambling near a deadline to get all the work done? I suspect we have all experienced a time crunch on a project, whether it was a term paper in school, a special project at work, or even a party to celebrate a holiday.

As we pull an all-nighter to finish our project just ahead of the deadline, what we are really doing is lowering our chances of a successful effort and suffering unnecessary stress.

The alternative is to arrange your life so that you can complete most of the work well ahead of the due date. My mentor used to refer to this as “working ahead of the power curve.” That may seem impossible to do, but hang in with me and I will make it more doable for you. Before we discuss the process, let’s explore the benefits.

There are many advantages of getting the majority of work done early. Here are seven obvious advantages:

1. You have more time to polish the work, so the final quality is significantly higher.

2. You can do dry runs of the material, so your work comes out more professional looking.

3. You can relax and not be uptight about working close to the deadline. That also improves the quality of the material along with reducing your stress level.

4. You get the reputation as an organized person who has his or her act together.

5. You can respond better to unanticipated emergency situations because your current plate of work is not overflowing.

6. You can spend some time looking at potential problems that might arise and have contingencies ready to go.

7. Since you know you are prepared, you are more confident and relaxed when the event arrives.

With the help of my mentor, I got the idea of doing this many years ago. It sounded impossible to me at the time because, like everyone else, I was always so backed up with dozens of projects.

Actually, it was not as difficult as I thought to get into the habit of tricking myself into believing the deadline was a week or two ahead of the actual due date.

Once I experienced the tremendous benefits of working ahead of the power curve, as described above, I have tried to work that way ever since. There are still some times when things get just overwhelming, but when that happens, I just get up earlier to keep things moving.

A professor of mine in college used to advise students to write papers like they were climbing a mountain. Get as far up the mountain on the first day as you can. Then the path to the top on subsequent days gets easier and more enjoyable.

Just write the bulk of the paper quickly and have it in draft form as early as possible, then you can go back and refine it at a more metered pace when you are relaxed. It is a lot easier that way.

I use this system with my weekly blog articles. I have an “inventory” of articles that stretch out for a few months in front of when they are actually published. When my inventory starts to get below four weeks, that is the signal to plunk out another 4-8 articles.

I do that quickly based on little notes I have made to myself along the way of interesting topics to discuss. Once the drafts are done, I can refine the writing as the time to actually publish them gets closer.

Using this method allows me to keep a stream of content going at all times. I can, and often do, accumulate similar articles into a book or a video program format. The result is a continual stream of fresh content coming out without a lot of stress or panic.

Try the formula of working ahead of the power curve in your life. If you can acquire the discipline to do it, you will find that the quality of your work will rise, while at the same time your stress level will go down. It is a life skill worth cultivating.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763

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