Sunday, July 6, 2008

Project Management - Hardest part first or last?

I just finished phase II of a big project for a client. It required numerous hours of work and I was on draft #2. A friend asked me how I approached it. I started with the easier pages first and saved the hardest for last. She, on the other hand, said she would have done the tough parts first to get them out of the way.

Why did I tackle the easier parts first? It goes back to my test-taking days in high school. I always went through my tests by glancing over all of the sections, and questions, first. Then I'd answer all of the easier questions first - multiple choice, true & false, etc. Those I knew for sure I'd answer right away. If I wasn't sure, I'd pencil in a question mark and move on. On pass #2, I'd answer those with the question marks. On pass #3, I'd answer the hardest questions or those that were fill in the blank or essay. By answering the easier parts first, I saved my time to devote to those that required more thought. If I had time left over, I'd review all of the questions - and my answers - one final time.

The same is true of my project. I knew certain pages were almost finished and just needed fine-tuning or proofreading. Knowing that I had 7 of 11 pages done, I could devote the rest of my afternoon to researching, rethinking and rewriting the remaining pages without feeling rushed or pressed for time.

Neither my method nor my friend's is right or wrong. It boils down to what method works better for us. How about you? What strategies do you use to break down a project into manageable parts?

Virtually Yourz,


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