Some people go straight for a whiteboard and take pictures afterward on their phone. Others use a combination of both. Your work breakdown structure could take the form of a list. For smaller personal projects, a simple hand-written plan will do. Using project management software you can create a detailed and interactive task list, assign people to tasks, and receive notifications in real-time about progress.
A shared spreadsheet is best to avoid version mix-ups and undocumented updates. It might be tempting to skip the step of creating a work breakdown structure in the name of agility and time-saving. So properly investing time in this initial stage is always a better option.
As with planning for any project, the more tools you have at your disposal, the better. Please try again. Sorry…something went wrong. Please try again later. A straightforward guide to creating a work breakdown structure. Georgina Guthrie in Project Management. How to create a work breakdown structure in 3 steps 1. Break it down Next, list every task that goes into achieving each of these deliverables. Here are three questions to ask yourself: What needs to be done to complete this deliverable? What are the task dependencies? Or in other words, does one task rely on the completion of an earlier one?
Have you addressed every possible angle? Remember, taking a shortcut may seem like a good idea at the time, but often spells trouble further down the line. Refine your structure This is where you get even more detailed. Choose your medium There are three to four main approaches to creating a work breakdown structure. Flowchart or Gantt Chart Both flowcharts and Gantt charts are useful diagrams for showing a hierarchy of tasks. Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship.
And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We tried to win it. I never thought the system was equitable.
I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. We liked to say we worked hard, played hard — and there were clear boundaries around each of those activities. Grad school, then, is where I learned to work like a millennial, which is to say, all the time. Our health insurance was solid; class sizes were manageable. I taught classes as large as 60 students on my own. Either we kept working or we failed. So we took those loans, with the assurance from the federal government that if, after graduation, we went to a public service field such as teaching at a college or university and paid a percentage of our loans on time for 10 years, the rest would be forgiven.
One thing that makes that realization sting even more is watching others live their seemingly cool, passionate, worthwhile lives online.
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I find that millennials are far less jealous of objects or belongings on social media than the holistic experiences represented there, the sort of thing that prompts people to comment, I want your life. That enviable mix of leisure and travel, the accumulation of pets and children, the landscapes inhabited and the food consumed seems not just desirable, but balanced, satisfied, and unafflicted by burnout.
The social media feed — and Instagram in particular — is thus evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself. The photos and videos that induce the most jealousy are those that suggest a perfect equilibrium work hard, play hard!
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For many millennials, a social media presence — on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — has also become an integral part of obtaining and maintaining a job. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. In the early days of Facebook, you had to take pictures with your digital camera, upload them to your computer, and post them in albums.
Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption. But as sociologist Arne L. Kalleberg points out , that efficiency was supposed to give us more job security, more pay, perhaps even more leisure.
In short, better jobs. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. And we get a second gig. All of this optimization — as children, in college, online — culminates in the dominant millennial condition, regardless of class or race or location: burnout.
Finishing the massive work project! People patching together a retail job with unpredictable scheduling while driving Uber and arranging child care have burnout. Startup workers with fancy catered lunches, free laundry service, and minute commutes have burnout. Academics teaching four adjunct classes and surviving on food stamps while trying to publish research in one last attempt at snagging a tenure-track job have burnout. Freelance graphic artists operating on their own schedule without health care or paid time off have burnout.
World-famous BBQ! Even the trends millennials have popularized — like athleisure — speak to our self-optimization. We use Fresh Direct and Amazon because the time they save allows us to do more work. Time in therapy, after all, is time you could be working. But planning a week of healthy meals for a family of four, figuring out the grocery list, finding time to get to the grocery store, and then preparing and cleaning up after those meals, while holding down a full-time job?
Millennial burnout often works differently among women, and particularly straight women with families. A recent study found that mothers in the workplace spend just as much time taking care of their children as stay-at-home mothers did in One might think that when women work, the domestic labor decreases, or splits between both partners. Millennial parenting is, as a recent New York Times article put it, relentless. Go to yoga! Use your meditation app! I feel so burned out. Commiseration or advice?
The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial.
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There are a few ways to look at this original problem of errand paralysis. Many of the tasks millennials find paralyzing are ones that are impossible to optimize for efficiency, either because they remain stubbornly analog the post office or because companies have optimized themselves, and their labor, so as to make the experience as arduous as possible for the user anything to do with insurance, or bills, or filing a complaint. Sometimes, the inefficiencies are part of the point: The harder it is to submit a request for a reimbursement, the less likely you are to do it. The same goes for returns.
Finding a doctor — and not just any doctor, but one who will take your insurance, who is accepting new patients — might seem like an easy task in the age of Zocdoc, but the array of options can be paralyzing without the recommendations of friends and family, which are in short supply when you move to a brand-new town. Other tasks are, well, boring. The payoff from completing them is too small. The consequence is two-fold. First, like a kind of Chinese water torture, each identical thing becomes increasingly painful. In defense, we become decreasingly engaged.
To be clear, none of these explanations are, to my mind, exonerating. But dumb, illogical decisions are a symptom of burnout. We engage in self-destructive behaviors or take refuge in avoidance as a way to get off the treadmill of our to-do list. Some people who behave this way may, indeed, just not know how to put their heads down and work.
Living in poverty is akin to losing 13 IQ points. Millions of millennial Americans live in poverty; millions of others straddle the line, getting by but barely so, often working contingent jobs, with nothing left over for the sort of security blanket that could lighten that cognitive load. The steadier our lives, the more likely we are to make decisions that will make them even steadier. War with North Korea looms. Our primary concern with the incredibly volatile stock market is how its temperament affects our day-to-day employment.
The planet is dying. Democracy is under serious threat. In his writing about burnout, the psychoanalyst Cohen describes a client who came to him with extreme burnout: He was the quintessential millennial child, optimized for perfect performance, which paid off when he got his job as a high-powered finance banker. One morning, he woke up, turned off his alarm, rolled over, and refused to go to work.
He never went to work again. In the movie version of this story, this man moves to an island to rediscover the good life, or figures out he loves woodworking and opens a shop.
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The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is — not a passing ailment, but a chronic disease — and to understand its roots and its parameters. They just describe those feelings and behaviors — and the larger systems of capitalism and patriarchy that contribute to them — accurately. The carrot dangling in front of us is the dream that the to-do list will end, or at least become far more manageable. To do that, you need paradigm-shifting change. Until or in lieu of a revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system, how can we hope to lessen or prevent — instead of just temporarily stanch — burnout?
Our capacity to burn out and keep working is our greatest value.
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While writing this piece, I was orchestrating a move, planning travel, picking up prescriptions, walking my dog, trying to exercise, making dinner, attempting to participate in work conversations on Slack, posting photos to social media, and reading the news. I was waking up at 6 a. I was on the treadmill of the to-do list: one damn thing after another. I feel great. There are still things to tackle after this. I was too ashamed to admit I was experiencing it.