This piece of advice is simple, but it can save you a lot of trouble.

Oftentimes, when you are assigned new work, you do not necessarily have to start working on it immediately – maybe the deadline is still far away, or you know it won’t take a lot of time, or some other topic needs to be finished first.

When you get a new piece of work – do a report, prepare a market analysis, crunch some numbers in Excel, etc. – whatever it is, try to get the first draft done as quickly as possible. Even if it is a shitty first draft (either because you don’t have time to do a better one, or because you don’t have all the necessary information yet, still waiting for parts from a colleague, etc. etc.).

Do that shitty draft. Quickly.

The concept of the “shitty first draft” is not mine – it is from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It is a simple argument: acknowledge that the first draft will be rubbish. This actually makes it easier to get started. Better to do something that needs a lot of rework than not doing anything at all.

In a way, this principle works in consulting as well. Seeing how something comes to be – your calculations, your report structure, your storyline – will help you to…

  • make necessary adjustments – While it is still easy to do
  • quickly see what questions you still need to ask – before it is awkward to do so, because you reveal how long you waited to tackle the problem
  • identify what additional research needs to be done – while there is still time for it

So: get going on the first draft of any deliverable as soon as you can. It can save you a lot of trouble.