4

Scenario

I am in college and in group projects. We have to work together with other team members to architect the design and dividing the tasks. Once the tasks are assigned to each person and when it’s over, we have to combine each other's task into a single system, which might need redoing and correcting some tasks.

Problem

I am the kind of person who wants to finish his task early before the deadline and avoid anxiety at the end. How do I deal with people who do their task just before the day and integrate all tasks just hours before the deadline, thus causing huge work just hours before the deadline? Could someone enlighten me on how to handle this scenario or correct my approach to the problem?

5

The question might be out of scope, but I will give you my opinion.

You can't control what your teammate does. Working in a group setting, you will different approaches to the work, people who are like your teammate, people like you, people who never show up for example. The goal here is whether or not it will impact the bottom line: making sure that the project is:

  • Turned in
  • Of high quality

If you work together in the future, address this issue and schedule team sessions ahead of time and manage your time well. What I did when assigned a group project was to literally schedule all of the meetings for the entire semester (or quarter for you) this way, they don't have an excuse for not showing up and doing the work. Weekly meetings will allow you to check in periodically with your individual contributions and direct how the overall strategy would look like.

If you won't, then it will not affect you. Move on.

3

I think this is similar to interviewing a potential housemate. "Do you clean up after yourself in the kitchen?" gives away the answer you'd like to hear, whereas "How often do you think each housemate should wash dishes?" and "How many times per semester do you think the bathtub and shower should be cleaned?" will be more likely to get honest answers.

So, when the groups are forming, ask people open-ended questions about the work rhythm that fits them the best.

Once you've made your best guess as to which classmates you think are the best fit for you, then I think you should give a clear I-message, pretty much the way you did in your question here:

I am the kind of person who suffers horribly with anxiety if an assignment gets finished up in the last few hours before a deadline. What works best for me is to set milestone deadlines along the way, and to set the final deadline for two days before the official deadline. This is what gives me the peace of mind I need. Would you be comfortable working that way?

If you find that the milestone deadlines aren't being met, then I suggest that you either informally get out of the group project, with an alternative individual project; or that you present medical documentation of an anxiety disorder to your university, with the recommendation that you be given individual projects in lieu of group projects.

3

As you have mentioned, this is a group project. Thus, you cannot expect everyone to meet your own ambitions and standards.

I am the kind of person who wants to finish his task early before the deadline and avoid anxiety at the end.

Then maybe other person is not that kind of person. Maybe your teammate is asking the question

How do I handle my teammate who forces me to finish my task way before the deadline?

in some other website.

Best way is to sit down together and set a plan, and maybe task-related deadlines. Then, you have right to say that he's not behaving according to the plan. Otherwise, handling someone is not a job that you are entitled.

1

You literally have a genius on your hands, use him for different tasks, tasks which require innovation. Lie him about the deadlines.

He's a gold mine, don't waste him!

0

If your teammate hands in good work, just leave them be. They have different time management approaches and if it works out in the end, all is good. Trusting your teammate to actually do their work instead of constantly reminding them to finish earlier, is part of learning how to work as a team.

On the other hand, if your teammate hands in work is unfinished/of low quality, you should set fixed merging-deadlines with time to do corrections. Try a reasonable approach first, arguing on based on past events (not enough time for adjustments etc). Not all people are stubborn/lazy. I would not advise to lie to them though. It's rude and defeat the purpose of good teamwork.

0

With my Software Engineer's hat on - I haven't worked in academia for decades...

The things you need to pin down early are the interfaces between all the components. Until you have those, nobody really knows what they are supposed to be developing. Once the interfaces are properly documented, you can start developing against those as far as you like. Just watch out for misunderstandings on what the words in the documentation actually mean.

Once you think your bit is done, consider how you can test it without everybody else's stuff around it.

For software, that's test harnesses and mocks. For electronics, that would be a test box that monitors the outputs from your system and provides reasonable inputs. For other things, such as business processes, have a ponder on how you can test them yourself.

You don't have to actually implement everybody else's components. Just make something that looks like their parts, for the purposes of the tests that you designed.

At the end of the process, you should have reasonable confidence that your component works correctly and is ready to be integrated. You can now de-stress until the final integration period. And even then, the people who haven't independently tested their parts will be the ones running around trying to fix them at the last moment.

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