A story of coffee, pasties and the plan for the future*

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A story of coffee, pasties and the plan for the future*

It’s done! The ‘it’ being my project progress report. Between 8:30am on Sunday and 1:30pm on Wednesday I clocked up 36 hours of work solely on the assembly of the project report. This involved being rooted to the spot in the undergraduate labs and subject to regular caffeine fixes at predetermined points of the day. For someone who likes to run long distances, there is decidedly not natural and had left me feeling unhealthy. Although I have discovered that the spicy chicken pasties on offer from the staff bar are very good. Cue lots of hugging as various people completed and submitted their progress reports. I was not alone in this.

Up until recently I had so far managed to avoid the need for long hours. I do not like to “cut it fine” as the work produced is usually not the best. However, this is largely my own fault for failing to put a contingency in the original project plan for the progress report. Project plans are generally works of fiction with a small basis in reality. Like any plan, they usually don’t survive the first five minutes of the battle without some kind of alteration. Their real purpose is one of providing confidence to the stakeholders in the project. However they do need tp make realistic points, even if they can’t be the accurate, detailed and up-to-date documents ideally required. The contingency was necessary to include the weeks taken up by other university work and the questionnaire task which didn’t exist on the original plan. Having limited experience in the production of questionnaires and the due process led me to underestimate this task.

Errors of judgement have the habit of eroding confidence, but nothing repairs and bolsters confidence as demonstrating the ability to adapt and learn from any perceived or real mistakes. Naturally, the Gantt chart that got bundled into my progress report included time allocations for the exam periods, breaks for Christmas and Easter and a two-week contingency for the final report. Given the currently limbo status of my questionnaire, it was also necessary to include a list of tasks that may occur as the outcome of the feedback received. Nobody likes surprises in a planned project.

Anyhow, onwards and upwards. I’m now much clearer on what is known, what is not known and what needs to be done.

* Title inspired by Ash Browning.

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