7 Tips to Help You Easily Ace Your Group Projects
When I mention group projects, I can already hear the sighs and panicked thoughts coming from wherever you are, and that’s fine, I expect that. Group projects often come with bad connotations because everybody always shares the horror stories. Rarely do you hear the great things about being in a group and working alongside other people, but I’m here to change your mind and hopefully get you excited for that upcoming assignment. At design school you’re more than likely to have at least one group project throughout your years, so it’s important to approach it with a good attitude and some hope for the awesome things you could create together!
It’s not always easy!
Let’s just get this out of the way; I’m not going to lie to you and say that group projects are always a walk in the park, because let’s be honest, sometimes they really aren’t, but all is not lost, I promise! It is super hard to put your grades partially in the hands of other people and trust them with that, but it can be done and even turn out better than you could have done yourself! I have been involved in several group projects at uni and I can tell you now that they weren’t all great. I’ve had groups where people don’t turn up, people don’t do work, people fight, and it just didn’t work, but I’m here to assure you that I survived which means that you can too! And I’ve also been in some amazing groups, so it’s not all bad! Working with other people will almost always present you with challenges, whether those be small or big, but no matter what it happens to be, there is always a way to overcome it and succeed together.
Talk, talk, talk!
The best and most important way to succeed as a group, and overcome any of these possible issues, is to communicate! Whether you’re sitting next to each other, in different classrooms, or on other sides of the city, there are ways that you can talk to each other, and you should! With collaborative software and sites like Trello, Slack, Invision and more, you have no excuse to not talk to each other and get stuff done! Got a question? Ask it. Unsure about something? Discuss it. Excited about something? Share it. You are a team, so you have to talk to each other otherwise things won’t move forward and you won’t get anywhere! Even if it’s difficult, or it might change things a lot, it’s better to say what you’re thinking and start a discussion, than regret not saying anything later. You never know, someone else might be thinking the exact same thing, or it might not change what you thought but might lead on to a discussion about something else that turns out to be amazing!
Don’t get me wrong, I know that talking in a group situation isn’t always the easiest thing. I’m so, so introverted and it has taken me 3 years to gradually get better at standing up and saying what I think, and I’m still not that great at it, so I know what it’s like. As you slowly start giving it a try and gradually gain confidence, speaking up in a group situation will get easier. The people around you are all basically in the same place, and you’re supposed to be working together so the worst thing that can happen is that they might disagree with you, but that’s okay! Not everyone is always going to agree on everything, and like I said before, it might turn into a discussion about something else awesome. Also, you gave it a go and you’re one step closer to being a group project pro! Next time you have a group discussion, try adding something to the conversation. It doesn’t have to be big, you could just compliment someone’s idea, or say why you agree with another member of your group, or even share one of your own ideas! Try it out and see what happens, and let me know how it goes!!
You might not be introverted like me, and you might already be super comfortable with talking in a group situation and sharing your thoughts, but chances are, there could be someone in your group who is feeling shy or maybe a little left out. Sometimes all people need is a little encouragement, and they might be feeling overshadowed by the other, more vocal members of the group, so try and get them involved. A huge part of group work is making sure that everybody feels like they have an equal part to play and feels valued, so if you notice that someone is being a bit left out, ask them what they think about something, or see if they want to take on a particular task. Again, it can just be a small question or comment that will help include them in the group and improve the overall dynamics. Just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they don’t have incredible ideas and opinions to share, they just need the right moment and environment to do that in.
Embrace Your Differences!
The beautiful thing about design school and humans in general is that we’re all different. There might be loud people, and quiet people, illustrators and photographers, boys and girls, friends and strangers, or whoever else there could be in your group, and you all have unique and amazing things to share. Group projects create an awesome melting pot of talents, backgrounds, thoughts, opinions and ideas that you can take from together as a group as they are needed. You might be into something completely different to someone else, but what could happen if you put them together and made something new and incredible?! Acknowledge that everyone is unique, and take advantage of each person’s skills and strengths to make the most of what your team has to offer. You never know what you could discover between you!
We’re all in this together!
Because everybody is different, it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to the other people in your group or feel like you’re in competition with them. Just because somebody came up with a certain idea doesn’t make them better than you, just like if you thought of the best concept, you aren’t above anyone else in your group either. Treat each other equally, and don’t take score. Like any relationship, you’re in it together and it’s important to respect each other, listen to what you all have to say and not stress about if someone could be better than you. You are all great at different things, which means that you can’t be compared to each other. This isn’t a solo race either, it’s like a team relay race where you all take turns at doing your part and in the end you succeed and celebrate together!
One of the best things about being in a group project is that you are not alone and you have someone there by your side to get through it all with. Whether you need to vent about how frustrating the assignment is, need some motivation, or need to stay up all night to get stuff done, you’ve got at least one other person there who can help you along. And you can be that for them too! I’ve met some of the best people I know through doing group projects with them. Spending so much time with your team means that you can get to know each other really well, which will not only help your projects but also mean that you can make some great friends along the way as you bond over the work and the things you do to procrastinate doing the work.
Group work is definitely what you make of it. You could just say nothing, do the tasks that you’re told to do and go home, but if you really get involved, have some fun and help each other out, you can not only make something incredible, but you can enjoy the process and hang out with your new friends while doing it! Let me know if you try any of these things out and how they go for you, and if you have any tips of your own that have worked for you, tell me in the comments below or tweet me so I can give them a go! I hope that this helps - happy group project-ing!
Much Love, Hollie! :D