Recently, a client offered me a very large project. Typically, a project of this magnitude would take 3 to 4 months to complete. The client, however, wanted it done in 30 days. The company was reputable and had enough resources to gather everything needed to do the work, but was lacking experienced employees who were familiar with this particular process. Many of my colleagues attempted to delay the due date, and normally, I would too. This client, however, intrigued me for their reason for such a rushed completion. Also, there was a substantial reward to be earned from getting this done so quickly. I took on the challenge.
In theater, fire drills are a common rehearsal technique. This proved to be very helpful in this undertaking. In order to be ready to put on a performance, it is common for us to create buildings, forests, castle, mountains, and even worlds in 30 to 45 days. Since a lot of this entails trial and error, there are often projects and ideas that get discarded and need to be recreated very quickly. In the end, you will finish on time because there is no other choice in order for the show to go on.
The Greeks were one of the first civilizations to push for results with quick turn-around times. A lot of supervision and management is required during each step of the project. When you are in time crunch, there are 8 theater steps that could help you get the project done.
1. Eliminate everything is not vital to the project. A lot of times, there are a lot of things that a client wants but not necessarily needs for the project to be successful. If you can identify them and put them aside, you will start your focus on what is truly important for the project to succeed. If you first accomplish the crucial aspects of the project, you can always add in the niceties afterwards.
2. Before you start, take your time in planning. Consider everything you need and gather all the required resources. Effective planning and management of time and resources will help to complete the project quicker once you begin the work. The upfront time to plan will be well worth it. You will be less likely to jump in and have to scrap the project halfway through and start all over. Planning will help you prioritize all the project requirements.
3. Pick your project team wisely. Consider people’s personalities and work habits when you gather the team. Pick a team that is best for the particular project at hand. Leverage everybody’s strengths. Get people that have experience and knowledge. Enlist a crew that sparks creativity and at least one member that will focus on organization and logistics.
4. Make sure that everyone is clear on their tasks. Carefully align people with their assignments instead of letting them assume whatever role they want. You do not want to have all the work fall on a few hard workers while other sit around idly. Create a list of tasks that need to completed. Assign due dates for each task, and check off things as they done. Assign one specific person for each tasks to ensure accountability. Help every member create realistic due dates that ensure the project will get done on schedule.
5. At each meeting, start with a brief check-in. This will help everyone remain accountable and ensure timely completion. Often, when you are on a tight deadline, details can slip through the cracks. Electronic communication can be ineffective. A brief in-person check-in once or twice a day will help keep everyone on the right track all the way through the project. This is not the time for long discussions, however, so make sure that big issues do not derail the meeting.
6. In a time crunch, you may need to bring in more people to complete certain parts. Though doing things manually may seem harder, it is quicker than trying to recreate the while on a time crunch. Eventually, technology will help do things quicker and more efficiently, but if that technology does not yet exist or is not readily available, do not take the time to make it. Doing things the old fashioned way may prove to be quicker in the short term. Things that are done behind the scenes will not deter from the final product if no one knows that the tasks were done by people rather than machines.
7. Make sure that you leave yourself time to test out your final product. Something most always comes up when you are in a bind, so leave yourself time for last minute fixes and testing. Rehearsals are vital in theater to test out all the things that might bring complications during a performance.
8. Sometimes you have to accept what will work. If something is good enough, there is no need to push for perfection is you are in a time crunch. Do not settle for shoddy craftsmanship, but learn to accept things if they are not exactly how you might have envisioned them. People will not examining your work under a microscope, so make it so it is good enough from the perspective of the audience.
Completing an Overwhelming Project Fast can be a challenge. Use the outlined steps to ensure on-time completion for best possible results.
Do you have any special tricks that help you get big projects done faster? If so share them in the comments below!