The NJIT Young Alumni Club (YAC) added a new, monthly feature in October 2014 called YAC’s Facts to our weekly column in the NJIT Vector. Each month, we will share a fact of the “real world” from our professional experiences and provide simple, effective ways to prepare during your undergraduate career.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email the YAC at YAC.firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to know more about the Young Alumni Club (YAC)? Visit www.njit.edu/alumni/clubs/youngalumni for more information!
YAC Fact #2: You can’t survive without a daily planner and task list.
The Reality: Unless you were gifted with a photographic memory, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to succeed in a professional work environment without recording all of your meetings and action items in a central location. Chances are, you will be reporting to multiple project managers or supervisors who will assign you work, independent from each other. This is extremely similar to the way professors assign homework without thinking twice about other professors who are also assigning you work. Since missing a deadline is inexcusable, it is in your best interest to stay organized.
Imagine being assigned to 3 different projects, each with their own unique timeline. You will likely have status meetings every week, possibly even bi-weekly, to report the progress you have made. That’s 4 meetings a week at a minimum that you need to keep track of and actively prepare for. Let’s take this a step further. You are at your desk, working on Project #1 for one of your direct supervisors. While you are focused on finishing your first task by lunch, another supervisor stops at your desk and asks you to quickly shift gears and work on a substantial task for him/her by the end of the day. As you start to open up that project’s timeline, you receive an email from a third supervisor, asking you to read several lengthy documents in preparation for an important meeting the next day. Each supervisor expects you to deliver high-quality, on-time results.
Overwhelmed yet? Any idea what you should work on first? With a task list that you actively update with assigned priorities and deadlines, multi-tasking the above scenario becomes much easier than it may initially seems. Here’s how you can prepare while you’re in college.
The Prep: Go to the NJIT bookstore or your local office supplies store and buy a daily planner. Write everything down, even if you are convinced you won’t forget it. If you have an assignment due in three days, put it on your agenda for tomorrow and the next day. Get in the habit of frequently consulting your planner and treat it as if it were your own personal assistant, telling you when and where you need to be. And above all else, do not get caught without it. And if this doesn’t work for you, use the calendar on your smart phone, the calendar through NJIT’s Google webmail client, or another electronic calendar in the cloud.
Secondly, keep a running task list. Include an index for relative priorities. When a new task is assigned, compare it to all of your other tasks based on the task deadline itself, the amount of time it will take to complete, and when you will be able to dedicate the time to complete it. Then forget about it until it is the top item on your list that is not yet checked off.
With these two powerful organization tools, you will never miss a deadline or meeting, and others will be impressed with your ability to juggle so many things at once!