Not enough time...

How better planning helps to avoid blaming the deadline
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I’m sure you’ve expe­ri­enced this before. A project or dead­line is quick­ly approach­ing and you think to your­self, if I only had more time, every­thing would be so much bet­ter.

It might be true. More time might allow you to achieve what you’re try­ing to do.

But pat­terns of feel­ing like there’s not enough time can lead to frus­tra­tion, burn out, and inap­pro­pri­ate ten­sion. Those are all things most of us try to avoid, but some­how always encounter.

Whether it’s a per­son­al project, some­thing for your job, or a task at home, there’s a solu­tion to the “not enough time” prob­lem: bet­ter plan­ning.

We’re all famil­iar with the con­cept of plan­ning, but just like any skill, you can learn how to plan bet­ter

One of the strate­gic prin­ci­ples I often spread is “We plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is nev­er an issue.” This means we take the time to agree on the out­come, date, and process when it’s still pos­si­ble to rene­go­ti­ate and make changes. It’s eas­i­er and cheap­er to change the plan ear­ly on. It’s often dif­fi­cult and expen­sive to wait till the last minute (because we’re often forced to buy an easy solu­tion or make sig­nif­i­cant com­pro­mis­es). 

Some steps toward better planning...

1. Define the win. What does suc­cess look like? What’s the cri­te­ria for mak­ing deci­sions? Does every­one on your team agree with this?

2. Mindsweep. What things come to mind right away for this project? What do you not know and need to find out? Who could you talk to? Review the “Project Plan­ning Trig­ger List” PDF attached for ideas before you jump to the next step.

3. Orga­nize. What is the sequence of events? What needs to hap­pen to make the whole thing hap­pen? What check­lists do you need? What are key dates? (Tip: do not start here! Our nat­ur­al ten­den­cy is to begin at step 3 instead of steps 1 and 2.) 

4. Del­e­gate Author­i­ty. Who can you give author­i­ty away to make deci­sions and car­ry out the out­come? Remind them of what the win looks like.

5. Define Next Actions. Who has the next action? If two peo­ple do, no one does. 

6. Track “Wait­ing Fors.” Is there any­thing you’re wait­ing for? Keep a list some­where handy to track peo­ple you are wait­ing on. Do they know you’re wait­ing for them?

Ques­tion to con­sid­er...  Are there any projects you’re work­ing on now where you might need to rene­go­ti­ate the com­mit­ment? 

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