The people I work with are ambitious. They set big goals, they have strong internal drives, and they’re willing to work hard and make sacrifices to get what they want out of life. They pack their days full of tasks, sunrise to sunset, and I’m amazed at what they can get done.
There’s a subset of them, though, that – despite all their capabilities – never get anything done on time.
Yes, they succeed. Yes, they accomplish things.
But – and this is a big but – they miss deadlines. Frustration ensues: for them and for the people waiting for the deliverable’s, whatever form they might take.
The reason? They overestimate their abilities. Not their big-picture abilities – these are capable humans, forces of nature with champion mindsets – but specifically, they overestimate what they can accomplish in a specific period of time.
They constantly think they can do in twenty minutes what realistically takes an hour. But since they’re high-functioning people, think they can do it in twenty minutes. So they schedule it for twenty minutes – and it never happens.
The Kindergarten Approach
Sometimes you have to look at the circumstances in life the way you look at a classroom full of kindergartners. You’re the teacher, and the events of the day are the kids. You want to accomplish a simple task, like get the kids to put on their shoes so they can go outside.
Should take a minute or two, right?
You plan, the universe laughs: nothing with kindergartners takes a minute or two.
That’s how life circumstances interact with your daily goals: no matter how simple the tasks you set for yourself are, unforeseen things come up. They get in the way. They slow things down, every time – yet you still plan as if nothing unforeseen will happen. As if everything will go like clockwork, despite all evidence to the contrary.
You’re like the kindergarten teacher who only allots a couple minutes for putting on shoes: you know for a fact it never happens, yet you still plan that way because you think it should happen that way.
I’ll let you in on something: thinking does not make it so.
You know things will come up. Little surprises sidetrack you. The kindergartner sees a bumblebee. You get an unexpected email. The kindergartner has to go potty. You get a surprise call from a potential client you’ve been trying to land.
The time doubles. Then triples – and your whole schedule is off.
You miss the deadline.
Next time, be like the kindergarten teacher: they think putting on shoes should take two minutes. But they know it will take ten – so they plan for ten.
You think a task will take twenty minutes. But you know things come always come up.
So do this: plan based on facts, not what you think or wish. Plan for an hour. You’ll meet your deadlines, your confidence will grow, your credibility will increase, and your opportunities will expand.
Everyone wins, and no one is frustrated: that’s good planning.
Onward and Upward!