Urgent Can't Be In Control

While we might say that we perform well under pressure, there are not many people that like feeling like they are constantly behind fighting to get ahead. And even if pressure is the thing that helps us be decisive, it's also those same deadlines that keep us from being able to say YES to new opportunities. When we let last minute deadlines rule our lives we can be forced to say NO to big picture opportunities because of the urgent. Urgent is okay, just not when urgent is sitting in the driver seat. 

 Photo courtesy of  Jonathan Bliss

So what keeps us from planning ahead? 

  • We've had so much practice managing the urgent, we feel ill-equipped to do otherwise. 
  • We fear our planing isn't thorough enough and that we'll change our mind when we get more information. 
  • We've tried to get ahead before and failed. 

Some of those fears may have a thread of validity, but not enough to hold you back. 

This is all about manageable plans, chunking your progress with just enough detail to keep you ahead. 

If you're teaching, planning your teaching schedule far enough in advance to feel ahead doesn't mean you have to know exactly what you're going to say 6 months from now. But is does mean knowing the general category/theme of your next 6 months of teaching series. You should know the basic plan enough to quickly explain. Think short paragraph. If I asked you "what are you teaching for the next 6 months?" Your answer should take 30 seconds or less to describe. Now you're ahead of the game. 

If you're leading your team, this means you have some kind of plan for how often and how long your will meet with your team as a whole, as well as for your 1:1s. One of the best "systems" I've come across is in Patrick Lencioni's book:

Having a system/being predictable will allow you and your team to get into a rhythm. One that's just predictable enough to be powerful and flexible enough to be nimble (not stiff, slow and corporate). 

Remember, planning ahead allows YOU, not your deadlines, to control your schedule. 

Just because you're not a "planner" doesn't mean you can't have a plan.