Things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes things go sideways no matter how well you planned for them.
You had your whole day mapped out when a fire drill comes up. Something unexpected happens. You didn’t see it coming.
So, what do you do when this happens to you?
Are you able to re-group and go to Plan B on your current tasks so that you can deal with the urgency?
Or were you already in panic mode on your own work? And now you have two compounded messes on your hands?
You did have a Plan B, right?
How Do You Prepare For the Unknown?
Preparing for the unknown is a bit of an oxymoron because obviously you don’t even know what it is.
However, what we are talking about is being able to adapt when the unexpected comes up. Being ready to take alternative paths and come up with creative solutions.
The point is to be prepared enough and planned out so that you can adapt to unforeseen interruptions. Because they will and always do happen.
Ever tried printing those important presentation slides 15 minutes before the big meeting? What happens?
Of course, the copier doesn’t work! Of course, it has to warm up first thing in the morning. And there is no paper loaded? And darn it, out of toner!??
Now, before you go all Office Space on the copier, let’s consider how we got here in the first place.
Oh yeah… even though we had two weeks to prepare the slides, we left them until the day before the meeting. Not only that, but we were at the office until 8PM finishing them. Then we decided we would just print them off in the morning. Sound familiar?
Time for Plan B.
The Secrets of Plan B
Most people are so far behind on Plan A, that they never give themselves time to think about a Plan B.
But, there are many advantages to having a backup plan. Not just in being able to adapt and re-route but also in letting yourself consider alternatives. Sometimes just considering alternatives will lead you to new and more productive solutions.
Here are a few of the secrets of having a Plan B:
Being Prepared to Adapt – Having a backup plan puts you at advantage when it comes time to adapt. When something gets in your way, whether it is an obstacle or an interruption, you can be proactive with your response. Being prepared for what you are currently doing, makes you that more ready for the unexpected.
Staying Ahead of Schedule – One reason many people never get around to having a plan B is because they are so far behind on Plan A. Staying ahead of deadlines and getting things done early lets you consider alternatives and also prevents you from operating in crisis mode. If you are constantly creating your own fires, you will not be able to deal when a real one breaks out.
Developing Creative Solutions – Plan B allows you to innovate with creative solutions to your challenges. Too often we get locked into thinking there is only one way to do something. Usually, that way is the way we have always done something. Plan B opens our thinking to realize there may be different, maybe even more productive ways, to get our tasks done.
Taking Advantage of Downtime – Your backup plan allows you to get work done in the “inbetween” or downtime. Like when the doctor’s office decides to make you wait for 2 hours. Do you have a plan of what you are going to do during that time? Whether it is reading or extra work?
Reducing Stress – Having alternate plans reduces stress. Why do you leave things to the last minute and then wonder why you have a problem on your hands? This is self-inflicted time management. Some people even go as far as to tell themselves that they operate best in this panic mode. The truth is… they are not operating well in normal mode and putting themselves in jeopardy. Let your backup plan keep you from entering panic mode and thus reducing stress in your life.
What’s Your Plan?
When we are running full speed, with no alternatives to get our stuff done, is exactly when life likes to throw us a curve ball.
Make sure you have alternatives to your plans. Be ready to adapt. Stay head of the curve.
And always have a Plan B.
How do your backup plans help you stay ahead of crisis mode?