cbSullivan Consulting, LLC

Building a Better Plan - - Avoid Being Shortsighted

Mar 25, 2019 | by Cindy Sullivan

It's so frustrating to create a plan for your week and then have it all go out the window!  While we can't always avoid emergencies, priority changes, or sometimes even interruptions there ARE ways you can make sure that you don't jeopardize your plan from the get go.  Make sure your plan isn't short-sighted.  There's nothing like constantly tackling urgencies and last minute deadlines to throw our intentions into a tail spin.  Today's tip:  


Broaden your scope beyond the current week  


It's logical to start your planning by taking a look at what's coming up.  However, if you limit the review of your calendar and tasks to what is due today or even just this week you may find yourself always in a reactive mode.  Deadlines are already on your front doorstep. If you have the luxury of only having to focus on that one task that may be fine.  However, many of us will be trying to navigate a quick turnaround amidst meetings, appointments, items that come up throughout the day, and our regular workload.  We essentially back ourselves into a corner so that the only way to meet a deliverable is to work more hours, sacrifice the quality of our work, or block out other items and commitments so that you can focus only on the now urgent task. We may find ourselves pitching our current plan so that we move into reactive mode to deal with this urgency.  So how can you shift from being reactive to proactive?   


I suggest that during planning you look ahead at least 2 weeks beyond the current week.  Ask the following:

  • What deliverables are coming up in the next few weeks? 
  • What is the pace of the coming weeks?  
  • Where are there larger chunks of time when you can get work accomplished or work on a specific task or project?
  • What things do I need to be thinking about in order to get prepared for a future task?
  • Do I need to reach out to anyone else or take action so I'll have all info needed for an upcoming project?


By broadening your scope you'll start to take on a proactive stance and begin thinking, planning, and even working toward deliverables well before they are due.  As you look ahead with these questions in mind you'll see deliverables approaching vs having them surprise you when you see them on your calendar.  You'll also have a much fuller picture of what you can work to incorporate in the coming week's plan.  You may also find that there ARE steps you can take that require small amounts of time yet move you forward on those future tasks.  Items like reaching out to email someone, locating a report or info needed, etc. can make a big impact when handled early yet not sacrifice much time in the current week.


Even if you have a week where little if any time can be dedicated to beginning work on them, it's amazing how much more prepared you will be simply by having it in your sights as it draws near.  I think it's like your computer where you have an open application running in the background while you work on something else.  Thoughts and considerations about the work are more at the ready and you will likely find yourself mentally preparing even if portions of your calendar can't be committed to it yet.  You may also identify pockets of time in the coming weeks that you will be able to dedicate to a specific project or task.  Hone your skills of identifying the best time for work rather than being at the mercy of the NOW.


Broadening your scope ultimately helps you keep your current plan intact by lessening the time you have to spend dealing with urgencies or unforeseen delays.  Working at a better pace and knowing what is coming up are key to building a plan that works.  


Tune in for my next article on Tips to Avoid Planning Pitfalls when I cover the need to Leave Some Space.  


Cindy B Sullivan is a Productivity & Time Management Consultant, Coach, Trainer, and Speaker.  Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation and follow us on social media to stay connected and learn of upcoming webinars, classes, and offerings.


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