BUCRA mills on my way work ~6:45a

Lately, I’ve been pretty buried in projects and deadlines.

It happens every few months in R&D – you work hard on several ideas to check for viability of a concept, and then a few of them start to work out. It is fantastic when the projects that work out are spread out over several months, but other times, they end up on the same timeline, and you have to figure out how to wring more than 600 minutes from a 10-hour day.

In the case of my current job, we choose to adhere to specific customers’ schedules to review certain grocery categories, so we (product innovation) are pressured to complete projects that will line up with the scheduled presentation dates. 

Recently, a really cool concept was presented to us as a “we have this, let us make it for you.” We thought, this is great, of course we’ll take it

Turns out, the idea is developed, but the depth of the concept hasn’t been fleshed out. Fleshing out is needed, and the product developer needs to do that. 

*all eyes turn towards yours truly*

Shared 3rd place with a buddy at RCA’s 5K in Denver

Yep, I have just taken on another new project with fewer than 10 business days between ideation and protocept finalization. 

That doesn’t sound so bad, but normally, there is at least 3 weeks from ideation to concepting to costing to benchtop testing. We only heard about this idea around March 11th (that’s my birthday, so it was easy to remember when I first heard the pitch), so it’s not like we’ve really been sitting around.

Then you might be thinking, Well, it’s not quite the end of April, and you have until the end of the first week of May – that’s at least another 6 business days. What happened to those? 

I’ll tell you: I’m already traveling for back-to-back manufacturing trials for all the projects I’ve been working on for the past year. 

All of them. Back to back. 

Some of that overlap is due to some project hiccups last year, and some of it is due to the food categories they are, and the customer-scheduled sales presentation dates. Some of it has just been luck of the calendar. 

At least none of them are the same week…

I was whining about the state of the project last Monday to a friend in Washington, and she quipped, “I’ve done some of my best work in really short times.” 


Stopped me in my tracks really quickly. 

Why am I whining about trying to knock out a killer flavor and concept quickly? I love the product concept that was pitched; I’m contributing to a new flavor and a new category in one go! 

Hello, perspective

So yes, my time is tight right now, but it’s good. Some lessons have finally been pounded home.

I was able to see that I was spending time at work on other nice-to-do activities and ones that I didn’t feel right to pass off (file organization, kitchen management for caterers, consumer response tests/responses, data entry, kitchen cleanup, random meetings to talk about fears in projects – euphemistically called “red flags”). 

I wasn’t spending the right balance of time on the activities that will bring the most profit, so to speak. I wasn’t paying attention to the entrepreneurship mastermind writings I’ve been feverishly reading and downloading. 

As Gary Keller and Jay Papasan ask their readers in their book, The ONE Thing,  “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

The Mentee Podcast’s Geoff Woods talks about calendarizing priorities – yes, that’s a word and very much a verb – and letting the rest fall into place. Of course, I had to let a stressful project force me into figuring out what my one thing should be. 

Right now, that’s working on these formulas and making sure that our products will ship for the manufacturing trials. Oh wait, one thing: formulation! 

After that, I’ve queued up all the paperwork that’s needed for the projects: finalizing the technical documents needed to pass on my work to the teams downstream. Making sure that the vendors and suppliers are entered into the system. And confirming that landing zones for the manufactured product is arranged. And then some other random documents. 

Good thing I’ve got some time on airplanes for the next few weeks! I should buy the Boingo or GoGoInternet month pass. Hmmmm