Failing to plan is…

Most of you will think – planning to fail. But its also just being human and for others getting on with the first thing that comes to mind is good because it’s better to do something than nothing. But mostly its because we don’t stop, take a breath and allow ourselves the luxury of time to think and to plan and that includes setting aside the right amount of time to do something as opposed to the time we think that we can give it.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve fallen into that trap myself… just before Xmas I tried to do too many things before I went away. And then there was a large piece of work I had estimated would be done during Twixmas but I didn’t complete it until New Year’s day and even now I’m still thinking of things I want to add. I’m sure many of you will all too easily recall similar situations.

So what have I learnt? Two things… that perfection comes at a price and sometimes we just have to say ‘that’s more than good enough’ and stop, otherwise we won’t move onto the next thing yet alone delay delivery to the client. And the second thing is to be kind to me and remind myself not set unrealistic expectations. And I bet that’s not what you thought I’d say.

Why have I learnt those lessons and not what might be perceived as the more obvious ones?

  • If we’re completing a piece of work to an agreed brief then what’s the value of adding more and more? Surely if we don’t think the brief goes far enough we should have a conversation about it? Yes, there’s a massive difference between ‘want and need’ but if it is an agreed brief then we would have been party to the agreement.
  • Continuously over servicing a client will set precedents, which are then difficult to break as we’ve set a new norm. So plan out carefully what will be delivered and make sure the brief is fully fit for purpose before starting. Professional pride aside over delivery can appear, to the client, to be working outside of the brief and they may no
  • The other aspect is we’re now automatically ignoring the plan by doing more work than we had scheduled. Putting us under pressure and in danger of moving from ‘not urgent and important’ activities to ‘urgent and important’ activities with a potential ripple effect through the rest of the week/month.
  • So perhaps working to the brief is better for the client and for us. There’s always room to expand the brief if the client agrees but otherwise choose better ways to delight your clients.
  • We often forget to be kind to ourselves; we’re usually our own worst critics and our own worst taskmasters. Yes, there are times we need to give ourselves a pep talk but mostly we need to remember that we’re human too and a balance in everything is way more effective and supportive to us, as people and our business.
So remember failing to plan means that we’re less likely to give the right time and the right amount to time to the right things.