After years of being told that I needed to watch The Office, I finally started during this past winter break. While Dwight’s fire drill might be the funniest part of the entire show, the clip at the top of this post spoke to me louder when I watched it than any other bit from the show.

Too often I see students reliving what Kevin experienced with his chili. Hours were spent making an artifact that the student is incredibly proud of and likely lost sleep over, but it comes time to deliver the final product and they spill the chili all over the floor. I can see students deflate in front of my eyes when they realize that the file they have is the wrong version or what they need to turn in is sitting at home on the kitchen counter.

A few pro tips on making sure your chili stays in the pot.

Have backups!
Too often a student tells me that there is only one copy of their project file and that is madness. There is a saying among paranoid computer people about backups: “Three is two, two is one, and one is none.” Basically, if you have a high-value file you need multiple copies of that file to feel safe.

Have access
With the ubiquity of cloud storage options, it is silly to not use a desktop to cloud syncing storage option. In my order of preference: Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Using any of the options by default will eliminate the possibility that different versions even exist. If you are working in a group and you are emailing a file back and forth you are playing with fire. Look up a tutorial, set up your cloud storage on every device you own, use shared folders for group projects and erase this problem from your mind.

“Turn in” your assignment a day early
I know you probably get a rush from the success of staying up all night and getting everything done at 3 am on the day a project is due but you are making a trainwreck of a decision. You are counting on everything going perfectly to have any chance of success. Move the deadline up a day. Get the rush of staying up late and rolling into school sleep deprived but widen your margin for error so a truck could drive through it. On top of being able to fix any problems, you will sleep great the night before you have to present and you will look even better compared to the zombies your fellow classmates will be.

Have a turn in ritual
I don’t mean that you should be sacrificing an animal before you turn your project in. What I mean here is have a protocol that you go through before you turn in any major project or assignment. As is explained abundantly in The Checklist Manifesto smart people make silly mistakes all the time. If you set up a turn in ritual that you go through the every time, you reduce the chance you make a silly mistake.

Kevin- Office- Few Word Animated GIF

In short, Don’t Be A Kevin  on your next project.