Being on placement doesn’t mean that you will be given interesting projects all the time. There is an element of mandate stuff that you will have to do as part of your job scope. Over time, this can get boring and sometimes you will fall into the zone of time wasting activities or even spending too much time reacting to last minute stuff. Here is my secret to how I manage my time as a placement student to be always on the ball and keep things interesting.
Identify what are activities, results or achievements
There is an infinite number of tasks waiting to be done, but what makes a difference in your placement would be how you categorise these kinds of tasks. I have learnt this on a course I attended during my placement which I thought was very useful and I am currently still doing it.
- Activities: These are stuff that is like second nature to you. The outcomes are usually within our control. (eg. Sending regular email updates)
- Results: These are stuff that doesn’t have an outcome you can control. Success is never guaranteed in these tasks. (eg. Presenting a new system which has been approved by the senior management)
- Achievements: These are the stuff that you want people to remember you for. It is the legacy that you would be leaving in the company and in the minds of your colleagues.
Managing the inner chimp
Have you ever told yourself that you would start a gym regime but didn’t got around to do it? Or have you ever told yourself that you would focus on getting the assignment done but didn’t get past the introduction?
These are signs of your inner chimp at work. All of us has the inner chimp and in order to be productive in our daily life, we have to be able to manage and tame it. The inner chimp is the emotional voice inside of you always telling you to talk the easiest way out or just stay within your comfort zone.
One way that I found useful to manage my inner chimp, is to break my task into smaller 30-minute chunks. By doing so, I find myself being able to focus during those 30 minutes slots without the urge to digress to other task or even feel the need to procrastinate. I usually find myself feeling achieved at the end of the day as I managed to complete my task. Here is an example of how I break down my task.
- Market Research (1/4): 9am -9.30am
- Detailed Analysis (2/4): 11am-11:30am
- Report Compiling (3/4): 2pm – 2.30pm
- Format Checking (4/4): 4pm – 4.30pm
If you interested in inner chimp concept, you should read The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters! Great book!
For those who have never held a proper full-time job in their lives would be shocked at how much energy is drained from them at the end of the working day. This can take a while to adapt however over time it may become boring and demoralising at times. Hence, it is crucial to be able to self-motivate and empower yourself to keep your energy going!
What I found useful to have is a task checklist. Firstly, give yourself 3 task that you would like to achieve by the end of the week. Each of these tasks should be easily completed within an hour. Next, you should also have a daily task checklist which compromises of 3 tasks that require less than 30 minutes of work each. These should be easily complete before lunch or by the end of the working day! Here is an example of my weekly and daily task list.
- Weekly Task List (30 minutes – 1 hour)
- Calling up supplier X to discuss a potential partnership.
- Compiling Excel Spreadsheet to calculate revenue trend.
- Researching on potential new features.
- Daily Task List (less than 30 minutes)
- Clearing my emails from yesterday.
- Checking if the product X content is up to date.
- Printing outstanding contract to be filed.
As small as it may sound, these daily and weekly tasks are my motivation drivers that replenish my work energy and keeps me on task.