Mammoth Mountain – Small Steps

Mammoth MountainI’ve done most of my induction training, I’ve got access to most of what I need and I’m starting to understand what I’m doing at the new contract (I suppose I should just say contract now – it’s been a month, so it’s not really new).  The area I’m working in deals with quite complex data and reporting, and the reason I’m here is to help make things work more smoothly, more efficiently, whilst producing quality work.


It’s taken a while to start to get my head around the area, the systems, the reporting and the issues – I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer.  The team I’m working with seem to think I’m on the right track with what I’m doing so far, which is great.


So far, so good.  But this week they’ve given me one of the chunkier projects I need to tackle.  I think I’m starting to understand what I’m looking at, what the issues are and how I might be able to tackle them.  And as I get my head around what I need to achieve I’ve even made some headway and started to pull together some solutions.


But I’ve been hit with a little curve ball.  Having seen and liked what I’m doing so far, I’ve now been given another piece of the problem, and as it’s all related to reporting deadlines, I need to get it sorted and soon.  Which is fine, that’s what I’m here to do.  What’s thrown me is that this is a much more complex problem, it’s much chunkier, there are more strands to it, and the underlying issues are more complex.  The amount of time and work and the complexity of what I need to produce has overwhelmed me.  And for a day or two after I was given the brief I’ve employed that useful technique…oh, what’s it called….wait a minute…oh yes – procrastination!


In this case the procrastination has actually been useful – I had a light bulb moment whilst munching on a sweet and not doing the thing I needed to be doing.

Here’s my light bulb – I’m going to imagine the project is like one of those giant gobstoppers that I used to spend my pocket-money on.  When you first pop it in your mouth, you think you’re never going to win this particular battle – the gobstopper is huge, and there’s no way of breaking it down.   But, if you’re anything like me, you start to chip away (quite possibly chipping away some of your own teeth in the process).  At first, that seems to make no difference.  You work at it for what feels like ages, and nothing.  And then, you notice a tiny difference.  You can tell something is changing.  It feels a little bit smaller, you feel like you’re starting to gain the upper hand.  Then all of a sudden, one good crunch and you’re in – the gobstopper is no more, it’s just a mass of crumbly crunchy sweetie goodness.  The thing is though, it’s not actually that last crunch that did it.  It’s the combination of all those other little crunches and bites that weakened the structure.  The final crunch was just that – the final crunch (and the most satisfying!).


Well – the way I’ve tackled the project has been a bit like the way I used to tackle gobstoppers. AND I’ve taken my own advice from the book – Item 6, Tip 2 – Break it Down (handy, eh!).  One big crunch isn’t going to do it.  One long chunk of time isn’t going to do it either.  Instead, I’ve taken the ‘break it down’ approach.  I’ve looked at where I need to get to, and then I’ve worked backwards to where I am now.  I’ve listed all the things I need to do and all the small steps I need to take.  And now I have a plan.  I can see how each of the smaller chunks will eventually lead to a workable solution.  And having a plan makes me feel more in control, which makes me more enthusiastic about the days ahead.


Heena (1) – Gobstopper/Mammoth Mountain of a Project (0)!


(p.s. If you want some help tackling the mountains of paperwork in your in-tray, then check the book out – it might just help).

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