“Have this done by 5pm on Friday!”
Your boss slaps a stack of design papers on your desk.
It must be hundreds of pages thick and there is a long to-do list placed on top, you know the correct response is to smile and nod, so you do so.
How the heck is this going to get completed by friday?
This is a question I think we all ask.
Almost every week.
Whether we work for ourselves, or for someone else. But when we work for someone else it’s a rough cycle right?
You get real busy all week completing tasks that your manager set for you, only to find out that next week brings even more busy work.
We believe that we have only two choices in this situation: become an employer and start our own business or to carry on working in this unhappy environment and stick it through.
Starting your own business is a lot of responsibility, and I’ll be honest it’s not for everyone.
However, there is a third option.
Become what I’ll call a Most Valuable Employee (M.V.E.). Becoming a M.V.E. doesn’t involve working harder for someone else. It involves working smarter for someone else.
- Haven’t you always want to move up in your and gain a certain promotion?
- How about having more of say about what goes on?
- And we all want to increase our weekly earnings?
That is exactly what I am going to teach you in this post. I am going to show you a step-by-step method to ensure you increase you value within an organisation and make yourself irreplaceable for your employer.
The method I show you here will help you complete your projects on time and make your bosses happy. You won’t get the fake “thanks” that you currently get from completing all the busy work week to week. Instead real, genuine appreciation for your commitment to the firm. As it turns out this process also helps you to enjoy your work more, and it will help you get that promotion or position you’ve always wanted.
So, below I have broken down 6 steps to use when completing your work within a firm that overtime will help you become an M.V.E. Let’s get into it…
6 Steps to Completing Projects on Time and Making Your Boss Happy
#1 Find The Desired Outcome of Project
You may have been given a list of small micro-management style tasks from your boss. These would be great if you were a machine and if your boss knew exactly what was going to be required.
Unfortunately, your not a machine and your boss probably doesn’t know exactly all the steps that are required.
If you were given more freedom on the project then thats great, but still it helps to define exactly the purpose of your working efforts. First, you must dig deep to find the desired outcome of your employers demands. Tactfully, ask your employer about the overall project to get an idea of how your efforts fit in to the larger picture.
The questions that you need to have answered are…
What will this look like when it’s finished?
How will you know if it’s successful or not?
This will keep the end in sight and force you into clarity at the very start of a project (before you waste a ton of time). Something your boss may have not done before he gave you a list of tasks to complete. It’s probably not your job to ask if the project itself is high leverage for the company, but it will make your boss happy if you take responsibility for your own work by focusing on whats important.
#2 Create A Personal Project Task List
Now that you know the desired for the project you can revaluate what you actually need to do to complete you share of the project. Get some paper and a pen and add to your bosses list all of the tasks you believe are required to get to that desired outcome.
When writing this task list be sure to write each task beginning with a verb, then with a noun, then the object.
For example: “Create order with City Engineering Suppliers for pipes.”
This will make executing the tasks much easier further down the road.
Now, prioritise that list and highlight the activities that are absolutely essential to completing the bare minimum of the desired outcome. These should be core tasks that would 100% required. Not things that would make it look better, only select the bare minimum as building blocks to achieving the desired outcome.
Now, Disregard Everything Else!
What? Get ride of it?
Yes, take the shortlist of core tasks put this on your desk and hide the list of all the other activities. This is known as your Avoid At All Costs list where you do not allow yourself to work on these things until the most important tasks are completed.
Note: The Personal Project Task List is something I adopted from a management tool known as a AAAC list. I learnt this from Scott Dinsmore at Live Your Legend and in turn he learnt it from Warren Buffet, the most influential investor of our time. Do yourself a favour and check out Scott’s post on the AAAC list.
#3 Work With Focus
Now that you have your Personal Project Task List, which is the list of essential tasks you defined in the last section, do not even look at the other list until all the core tasks are completed. To reiterate your task list should ONLY include the absolute building blocks to achieving the desired outcome.
No frills, just core tasks.
This part will obviously take the most effort and time, so if you have completed the previous steps then you should be only completing high leverage tasks to make sure your efforts are effective towards the desired outcome of the project.
If you want to zone-in to be at your most effective you can try some of these tips that help me focus. This is far from a complete list of productivity tips and most of it you’ve probably seen before, but hey its a good start.
- Put your cellphone on aeroplane mode
- Close all web pages and tabs that are not directly related to the current task you are working on.
- Wear headphones to zone out stray noise that might affect your thinking ability.
- Take a 20min nap if you are dozing off.
- Only have 1-2 coffee’s per day and only before 2pm
- Evaluate what you want to achieve that day in the morning set your tasks and don’t allow yourself to question them, just do the work.
#4 Revaluate Time
Once you have completed the list of core and high leverage activities you have probably completed 90-95% of the total desired outcome. Now re-access your time frame. How much time do you have left to finish the outcome? If you’ve been working effectively you should have some time left for finishing touches now re-decide how much time you wish to delegate to completing the final touches. If you have finished with time to spare, then take out the original list and highlight those additional tasks required to finish your work to a quality you determine.
You probably notice that many of the things you wrote down were not needed at all and you may have some new tasks to add.
Ask yourself what really matters and focus on that.
#5 Make Your Boss Proud
Once you’ve completed all the previous steps, you’ve probably created some amazing work. Now you probably haven’t completed all of the micro-managed tasks that your boss set for you, you’ve gone a step further and increased your value as an employee.
It’s important to note that most people won’t expect this proactive approach. So you should expect a little resistance when you present your work to your employer. If are questioned tactfully describe your rational WITHOUT alienating your boss. Be careful to not disagree with your boss directly just describe how your efforts were targeted at the core needs of the customer, client or overall project.
Any employer that’s worth working for (not a complete idiot) will see that you are proactive, creative, hardworking and ultimately irreplaceable within your organisation. Don’t expect anything the first couple times you take this approach it will take time for an employer to recognise your worth to the company. Overtime, you’ll be offered promotions and new opportunities and become known as what I like to call the M.V.E, which is the Most Valuable Employee to your company.
#6 Reflect, Evaluate and Reward Yourself!
One step (that I often forget) is to make sure you take time to reflect and reward yourself. I don’t mean go out all weekend boozing, well I suppose you could if that’s your thing, but what I do mean to separate yourself from the busy work mentality and reflect on what you have learnt.
You should make notes, journal or even create a audio/video message for yourself. Note down 3 of your biggest lesson’s. These can be things that worked or failed, and most importantly things you’d do next time around. Now take the time to reward yourself in whatever way suits you. As long as you do something that makes you feel energised, inspired or relaxed afterwards.
Personally I like to socialise with friends, or go out and do something outdoors. This is key, as getting too caught up in producing work can ruin your creativity and most of all your mental well being.
Most people will never take this proactive approach to their work. Too many employee’s assume the full burden of completing tasks without ever questioning why they are doing them in the first place. At first, it might seem unreasonable to question management and to take the burden of deciding how to spend your working time, right?
But in the modern work environment you must, especially if you want to progress in your career as an engineer. You can’t presume that your managers are 100% perfect and that they know the project as well as you. Take responsibility for your own work and your career and work on creating more value within your organisation.
You’ll enjoy your work more as an M.V.E and you’ll progress in your organisation much faster than the obedient employees who don’t think for themselves. From week to week as you take more and more self responsibility, working more and more efficiently you’ll grow in confidence and produce even better work.
Your impact in your organisation will be come irreplaceable. As this happens you will have the leverage to ask for that promotion or position you’ve always wanted!