A Strategy for Planning for the Unknown


A Strategy for Planning for the Unknown

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about taking time to notice the ‘space’ between things as a way of allowing our minds to rest on something simple and enjoy a mini-meditation.

So, with my new attention to ‘space’, I noticed how quickly my diary for this year is filling and became conscious of the need to create space there as well. As I’ve reflected on last year, I’m surprised by how many things arose that weren’t scheduled.

Some were so left field I couldn’t have prepared for them. But through juggling, reorganising, late nights, early mornings and sheer determination, I managed (like many people) to get it all done. And although that comes with a certain sense of pride in what’s been achieved, I can’t help but think there must be a better way.

It’s not possible to plan for the unforeseeable, but based on experience we do know that ‘the unplanned’ will usually take up time we don’t have. It will crowd our day (week or month) and generally override the commitments we were prepared for. The most logical approach I can think of is to at least set-aside time.

As I plan my year and schedule work on a daily basis, I can only accommodate the things I know about. But in order to plan for the unexpected, there are a few practices I’m going to implement. If you decide to try them as well, let me know if you find them beneficial or if you tweaked the process with improved outcomes.

  • Firstly, I’m leaving the last half hour of every day free.

If I get a detailed email or request for information that requires an immediate response, it can fill that slot rather than make my day longer than it should be.

  • No appointments from midday Friday.

It could be any day of the week, but Friday’s are best for me. It will give me the chance to deal with the tasks that get ‘bumped’ earlier in the week because of the unexpected call to attend my daughter’s school, a visit to the doctors, or that inconvenient internet outage.

  • One day per month will be appointment free.

The last day of the month suits me but just choose a day that isn’t already occupied. This will allow some reshuffling space for urgent client matters that take priority, a trip to the vets, or an unplanned family event.

  • And finally, leave one week free, every six months (each quarter is probably more realistic, but this is where I’m starting).

These two single week blocks are to make up for the commitments that get pushed back when I’m out of action (or functioning on fewer cylinders) for a few days at a time. It could be illness, grief, storm damage to the house, an impromptu visit from family or friends, or any number of other external influences.

These ‘spaces’ might seem like an unproductive use of business time, but I’ve discovered that even though I’m prepared to burn the candle at both ends, my clients generally aren’t up for a 5am appointment time. Allowing space means I can reschedule, rather than lose work.

I’m not certain this approach will achieve what I’m after, but it’s my best strategy to plan for the unexpected and enable me to retain a degree of control over my circumstances. And let’s face it, the time won’t be wasted.

Allowing space in my schedule means I have room to move, adapt, breathe and occasionally, if the time set aside isn’t needed; rest. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

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  • Renee Hasseldine

    Georgia, I really love how you’ve created some structure for dealing with the unknown. I myself get caught up in doing the hard slog of handling the unexpected that crops up. Your tips are practical and easy to implement. I’m going to go have a look at my calendar now and see how I can implement some of this now.

  • Georgia

    Thanks for that feedback, Renee. There is definitely some peace of mind in at least feeling like we’re prepared : )

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