To get ahead, I look at the review process you go through when analyzing something like working on a clock curve. For those unfamiliar with it, a clock curve has a single highlight at which maximum efficiency is reached. Prior to this highlight, your efficiency in whatever you do increases. After this highlight, your efficiency drops. With this in mind, we can move on to the purpose of this article.
When you do a review, it’s very easy to fall into that trap of Over review. This can also be seen as where you are working on the wrong side of the clock curve or after the high efficiency point. Basically, you’ve come to a point where further review is not only unnecessary, but it actually harms the final product.
Now I know that the common belief is that you can never spend too much time reviewing. However, I would like to add a supplement to this: You can never spend too much time reviewing as long as you have not reached your peak. The hardest part of going through something is not the review itself, but knowing when you have reached that peak. Unfortunately, until you have had some experience, you may not know that you hit your peak until you start sliding down the other side of the curve. However, here are a few ways you can tell it’s time to put the red pen up:
- Your deadline is affected – This is an important sign that you’ve spent too much time on the review. When your deadline for the final product starts to slip because you’re still in the review process or if you took too long, you probably should have stopped the review already. Now that may not be true all the time. For example, if the product you submitted for review was awful to begin with, it may mean that you need more review time than originally budgeted. If you initially under-budgeted your review time, this could also be a reason. However, I find that most of the time you do not know when to stop. If you set aside a period for review and find yourself getting close to going over it, reassess how much time you spend on review.
- Your changes are causing problems – This is a tough one because it’s really a judgment call. First, when you change something, be aware that there may be other problems caused by this change. For example, if you resize a table in a document, you should know that this can change the layout of the other pages in your document. When you start spending too much time on your review, you will notice that minor changes create more problems than they are worth. Use the table example to say that you want to make one row on a table a little smaller to match the other rows. By doing this, however, you will change the page layouts for all pages that follow this table. Do you have to do it? Your answer should be no. I’m not saying you should never make a change that causes other problems (sometimes you have to). What I’m saying is that if you run into this a lot, it probably means you’re too much.
- Your other work is suffering – Pretty obvious here. If your other tasks suffer from a lack of awareness, you are probably spending too much time on this one task. Most of the time you have more than one thing to work on. While your time should be budgeted for each task accordingly, if you exceed that budget, the time you spend must come from somewhere. There are only so many hours on any given day that you can get work done efficiently. If your current review really needs more time, so be it. But make this decision carefully, and be sure to take into account the time needed for the rest of your tasks.
In the end, only you can decide how much time you spend going through something. However, if you remember the above points when you do, I think you will see an increase in both the quality of the finished product and the quality of your other work.