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Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Importance of Project Planning

Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Importance of Project Planning

    Over the weekend, I completed a repair on an XBOX 360 with red rings. The project was a success and I thought a lot about how I approached this project — and how it could have gone better.

    Take stock of your tools

    Do you have what you need? Just as a good chef looks over the entire recipe before they begin, it is important to look through the entire process before you start.

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    In my case, I neglected to see if we had any solvent around so when I got to the step where I needed to remove old thermal paste, I was unable to proceed without a trip for rubbing alcohol.

    The other danger is there could be a step that says “let this sit for a couple hours*.” In cooking, it can be a step reading “place in the fridge for 8 hours” but in my case, I needed to re-flow the motherboard with a heat gun then allow the board to cool undisturbed

    Many times a project will have a step that requires you to do nothing more than wait. It could be waiting for glue or paint to dry, a motherboard to cool down, or your cake to rise. It’s important to know where the delays are and plan accordingly.

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    Allow plenty of time

    This is one I always struggle with. I am tempted to start projects at 10pm or midnight thinking it won’t take that long. Then, around 2am, when I’m overtired and frustrated, I make stupid mistakes.

    Resist the urge to start a project planning late in the day. Start fresh the next morning and make the time to complete it successfully. I completed my project over the course of about a week. I started on a Saturday afternoon and dismantled the console, then ran into my problem of no rubbing alcohol so I had to stop. Then I got busy and didn’t return to it until the next weekend. I picked the project back up Sunday afternoon when I had 4 hours free and completed the project without needing to rush.

    Have a clean and stable place to work

    I cannot stress the importance of this step. I needed to leave the Xbox dismantled for five days on our kitchen table. If I was trying to do this on my desk, or on the dining room floor I could have lost pieces or it could have gotten broken. It is vital to have a safe, secure place to work that won’t be disturbed.

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    Take special consideration if you have kids or pets. There is no assured defense against children and cats are infamous for their love of sitting places where they’re not wanted. To say nothing of those tiny screws making perfect play things.

    Organize your parts

    When taking apart something with multiple sets of screws or other small pieces, have a system for separating and organizing them. Many small screws can look nearly identical, until you get halfway through the project and realize you’ve used the wrong screw in the wrong place and now have to back track and replace them.

    I have a screw organizer, but you can use anything with different compartments. I’ve even used an empty egg carton in a pinch. If you don’t have anything handy, grab a piece of paper, and apply some double-sided tape or make a loop of tape and stick your screws to it, especially if they’re very small.

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    For this project, there were only three steps requiring screws so I used a blank sheet of paper and drew circles and wrote down the step number of the walkthrough I was following and placed the screws in that circle.

    With a little project planning, you can save yourself a lot of extra time, effort and making a silly mistake which could cost you. Make the time and plan out your next project. I always hear my father’s advice in my ears when I start any new project:

    “Measure twice, cut once.”

    (Photo credit: Measure Twice, Cut Once via sxc.hu)

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    Last Updated on March 29, 2021

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

    What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

    The Dream Type Of Manager

    My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

    I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

    My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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    “Okay…”

    That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

    I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

    The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

    The Bully

    My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

    However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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    The Invisible Boss

    This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

    It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

    The Micro Manager

    The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

    Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

    The Over Promoted Boss

    The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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    You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

    The Credit Stealer

    The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

    Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

    3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

    Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

    1. Keep evidence

    Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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    Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

    Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

    2. Hold regular meetings

    Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

    3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

    Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

    However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

    Good luck!

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