My young niece recently cooked dinner for the family. Sloppy Joe’s were the entreé so she made those first, and while those cooked she steamed the broccoli and boiled the spuds. Finally, she made a delicious recipe as the base for parmesan-crusted potatoes.

Only as she prepared to put the potato dish in the oven, she realized that they were to bake for 30 minutes. By this time, of course, the sandwiches and vegetables were ready to be eaten. She pivoted and baked the potatoes until the cheese melted — about 10 minutes — and we enjoyed them without a crust instead. It all worked out and was a very tasty meal but cheesy potatoes weren’t the plan.

Many times, people do the equivalent at work — starting with the easier projects first, doing one project at a time without considering the whole, or failing to backward engineer the timing to ensure that things are done in the most effective order. It results in rushed — and less than ideal — output of the more complex assignments. You may turn something in, but it’s cheesy potatoes as a weaker substitute instead of what you could have accomplished.

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