Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One small step at a time.

I just feel so overwhelmed right now - I've got two quizzes coming up next week (and one of them is a dreaded statistics quiz!), a statistics presentation and an important marketing project presentation that is worth 20% of my final grade.

"There's so much to do!"

Just thinking about all there is to do gives me a headache, really, but then this whole thing reminded me of how my group for Organizational Behaviour (OB) handled our last 3000 word report.

Everything seemed to have gone wrong with that report. We started late, misread the question and when we finally realised that we had to get it ready within a week, my group members and I found ourselves caught up with a whole range of equally important commitments, making it difficult for us to even meet up and get the report done.

And thus the week flew by, with us just having a few unproductive meetings and a whole big cloud of impending dread hanging over us, and we found ourselves with just three days till D-day. With just three days left, we put in all we could. We stayed over at one of my groupmate's place and worked on the report an entire night. But that just wasn't enough, and after all the work we put into it, the report was still a mess. And somehow we found ourselves with a half done report with only one night remaining. That was Wednesday night and the report was due on Thursday morning. There was just no more time left to waste.

So in a last ditch effort to save our skins, a teammate of mine and I decided to meet at my place and work on the report all the way, and do whatever it took to get it done. So we worked, and worked and worked through the night. That night never seemed to end. Fatigued by not sleeping well the past few days as we spent so much time working on the report, we really struggled to keep working. I just kept reminding myself that 20% of my grade for OB depended on this report and just kept working on the report. There was no time to even catch a short nap. We were really running out of time.

It was hell, but as we really poured our hearts out into the report, the report begun to take shape, and it started looking better. And better, and better. But the report was still too long, and we worked in the early morning, cutting off every single unnecessary word, so that we would satisfy the lean word limit of 3000 words.

And at 6am, after working through the entire night, we did it. I cut down the part I prepared to a mere 1000 plus words and my teammate edited the rest of the report down to 2000 words, making the report just slightly over 3000 words. Or so she thought.

When we put the two parts together, and my teammate did a final word count, all the colour suddenly dissappeared from her face.

"Kevin, something's wrong, very wrong!" she shrieked.

Apparently we were still somehow 500 plus words above the word limit due to some reasons still unknown to us. The time then was about 6:05am, and we had to send the report to my other teammate who lives in Woodlands to print before she leaves the house at 6:30am, or we'll never get our report to our tutor by the 8:30am deadline.

"How are we to remove 500 words in 25 minutes? Is it even humanly possible?" she shrieked again.

We really didn't have a choice, and 20% of our grade depended on this report. We had to get it done, by hook or crook, and panicking wasn't going to help.

And then I had an epiphany.

"Hey, it's alright. Just calm down. See, we have 30 pages in our report, and we only have to cut off 16 plus words per page and we're done. It's possible. We can do this."

And so began the most stressful 25 minutes I ever had editing a report. We ran through the report and cut down as much as we could out of it. It wasn't easy, but we managed to cut off a line or two every page, and make the necessary paraphrasing to shorten our sentences. We even cut of several paragraphs which weren't particularly relevant.

And then after going through the entire report, we did a final word count.

"3014 words."

We did it! At that moment, the adrenaline was pumping so hard in my system that it felt like I just bungee jumped off a cliff, or just jumped off a plane, skydiving. We really did it! We managed to do something that seemed impossible by just doing the best we could, one little chunk at a time.

"We did it!"

By looking at the gargantuan task of reducing the report by 500 words as just cutting away 16 plus words per page, we made it manageable in our minds, and that just made all the difference.

When life's challenges all seem to come at you at one go and threaten to overwhelm you, just remember that it's all in the mind, and we can take things one small step at a time. A large challenge always seems so much more achievable when you split it up into many tiny bite size tasks to be worked on.

So if you're out there feeling stressed and overwhelmed too, just remember that things always look better if you take them on one small baby step at a time, and that if we really believe that we can, we are able to accomplish even that which seems impossible.

There's just so much to do, but I'm going to survive all this, one small step at a time.


Anonymous said...

It's called 'chunking'.

However it can also work against you. If you were to think to in order to write the report you have to do x,y,z,a,b,c,d....v then no the report's never going to get done.

Oh by the way The PUA Season 2 is out!! But.. no Stage6 site to steal it from this time around. Moo.

Kevin Chan said...

Well, for report like tasks, it's important to keep the big picture in mind, but you can still work on it part by part what. Just that you have to make sure that when writing each part you have the overall goal and vision of the report in mind.

So when you going to download the PUA season two? Call me over to watch it when you have it man!

Chia Wei said...

I feel ya man. X)

I'm going through loads of assignments that seem so unfinishable. Add that to the midterms...

But yeah... finally done with my biopsychology midterms today... Next to go is business and social communication.
And loads of assignments to hand up this friday.... urgh...

Anonymous said...

haha, kevin, did you use a quick-quotes quill? =p

Anonymous said...

Singapore, round two. This time,I'm gonna win. I'm gonna win big. Mark
those words. July 2008. All the best.

Kevin Chan said...


It makes me really wonder why our teachers said that university life was going to be easier than JC life right? lol.


Yup. I used an autoquoter quill. :D Heh heh.


Yup, still trying to make this round the best one yet. (:

ale said...

Like your strong and winning attitude.Can understand why you have achieved so much academically.
Exam. So stressful.