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Minimal Control over Workflow

Many professionals have relatively little control over their workflow because most tasks are assigned to them. This may not be a significant issue for professionals who work primarily on small, discrete projects. But, the completion of a large project like the thesis will require strategies for managing other work responsibilities so that they don’t interfere with time allocated for that project.

As Project Manager, your responsibilities include monitoring the workflow so that you have the necessary resources to work consistently on the thesis. You will want to monitor these issues in a systematic and consistent way:

  • How much time needs to be allocated for the thesis on a weekly basis in order to meet long-term goals?
  • What commitments have you already made to work on other projects?
  • How many additional projects do you anticipate being assigned in the next several weeks or months?
  • How much authority do you have in determining your work responsibilities?
  • What is the total amount of time required (daily or weekly) to manage all tasks unrelated to the thesis?

The goal is to allocate a relatively consistent amount of time per week to the thesis. It is inevitable that there will be some variability in the time available, but the important thing is that there is sufficient time most weeks to meet your long-term goals.

There are several steps you can take to manage your workflow more effectively, including the following:

  • Review your progress every week and make adjustments to your work plan for the following week based on new information.
  • Identify tasks that require substantial time but have limited value. Determine if it is possible to limit or discontinue some of these tasks.
  • Evaluate the expectations associated with tasks and responsibilities. It may not be possible to meet your own standards and expectations for every task and still allocate sufficient time for large projects.
  • Be selective in taking on any new projects. It may not always be possible to say no, but it can be a useful habit to at least consider whether it is an option to decline a specific task.
  • Recognize that some choices are going to be difficult. Establish criteria for how you will go about making these decisions and why.  
  • Whenever possible, collaborate with your colleagues or delegate tasks. Working as a team is sometimes more efficient and productive than working alone.