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Project Deadlines: Expectation Vs. Reality

Live long and procrastinate.

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So you just got a huge project assignment that’s going to showcase your skills to the world! Or at least to your department.

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You may think you know exactly how it’s going to go, but make room for surprises when it comes to the following:

MENTORS.

You should have a Gandalf to your Frodo, and Dumbledore to your Harry, a Mr. Shu to your show choir of one, a Harry to your Dexter. Somebody needs to guide you on your journey to greatness, and ideally you'll form a life-long coffee-date companion who really understands you.

Expectation:

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An invested wizard guide who totally believes in you and is there to talk out all your awesome ideas - they actually make you want to work all the time, and of course constantly remind you how smart and full of potential you are.

Reality:

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Your supervisor is super scary, super flaky, or so intellectually superior that it’s hard just to send them an email without wanting to crawl in a hole and die for being so bad at everything.

PREPARATION.

You want to warm up and get some background research out of the way so you can be as much of an expert on your area as possible. Then you can throw obscure details relating to your work around in random conversation, then nobody will doubt you know what you're doing.

Expectation:

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You can totally work some background reading into your routine from day one, so you can stay up to date and not get to rushed at crunch-time. Plus, if you approach it the right way, it might even become relaxing.

MOTIVATION.

You want to start this thing off with a bang, and really learn to love what you do. That starts with your dedication to getting things done.

PROGRESS REPORTS.

You have to talk. To other people. About how things are shaping up.

Reality:

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Most people don’t care what you’re doing or don’t understand, and the people who do just ask really annoying questions like “Are you sure that’s the best approach?” or offer you a ridiculously long list of additional research sources that you can’t begin to understand how they memorized.

SUPPORT.

Now that you've had you mini-crisis, it would be really great if SOMEBODY would acknowledge that you're working hard and you're on to something. It's the push you need to be sure you're not drowning your career.

SOCIAL LIFE.

You may be a hard-working professional, but a balanced life and schedule is important. Plus you want to still have friends when you're done with this, right?

Expectation:

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The work week is for work, and you can get all of your stuff done 9-5 Monday-Friday, maybe with some work over breakfast and lunch breaks. The weekend is reserved for your sanity.

THE BREAKTHROUGH.

You've worked through your abandonment issues and you've got the hardworking hermit thing down pat. It's time for the ideas to start flowing.

Reality:

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You’ve been staring at your computer for seven hours and you have nothing. As soon as you jot down an idea you think you might maybe have, you read it back and you want to die before you show it to anyone.

CLEARING YOUR HEAD.

The tension is killing you. It's time to get your mind of the work, and the unsettling lack of finished product, just for a couple of minutes to recharge your batteries.

CRUNCH TIME.

The duedate is approaching. Swiftly. You're praying for the armageddon halfway through next week.

SUBMISSION.

Somehow. Remarkably. You've finished It. Or at least finished enough of SOMETHING on time. It's time to get that sucker off your plate.

WAITING FOR FEEDBACK.

You've returned to the world of the living, and now you just have to wait patiently, or anxiously, to hear back about how things are looking.

RESULTS.

They're in. It's time to face the music. Pay the piper. What have you. You head to work and wait for the emails and comments to come flooding in.

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