It was one of those things today where I have been putting off a couple of PowerPoints I had to do because I felt entirely unprepared and insufficiently tooled – plus I naïvely believed that the deadline was in September – when suddenly I was given a deadline of today to have both more or less structured if not at least partially analyzed. How did I deal with this? A couple simple rules: First Rule, take advice straight out of the Hitchiker’s Guide and Don’t Panic. Actually, I had until about 17h30 or so to get this ideas hammered out (starting at about 15h) while still working with my 10 or 15 colleagues in the room so Second Rule, multi-task! While side-discussions started on particulars (everyone else being teams (I am still the lone wolf) and all being nearly done (I hadn’t started – again that is the importance of Don’t Panic right?)), I started by opening three documents and going slide by slide in the primary while studying, comparing, and occasionally modifying the other two as well as taking two emails every 15 minutes to respond to. The breaks eased then panic factor and also gave me the impression – when I switched back – of making progress. The 23 slides were soon down to 2 and the Excel spreadsheet was nearly complete. Third Rule: focus. The last 30 minutes I completed the slides and spreadsheet in parallel and found several inconsistencies that I was able to correct. Also, I was annoyed by the order of some of the elements but since that wasn’t really the objective but just a finishing touch, I didn’t let it distract me. I was last in line to present and everything was done about 10 minutes before. Fourth Rule: don’t let ’em see you sweat. Since everything was complete – even if it wasn’t perfect and certainly had some gaps, the important thing was that the content was all there on paper and I had a far better grasp of the big picture. This enabled me to defend the results with my characteristic confidence and candor.
Perhaps those four simple pieces of advice will come in handy to you. I hope so in any case:)