Confucius once said, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” This means that if you don’t plan ahead, you might find yourself in trouble. Being a successful planner and organizer has a lot to do with the ability to plan ahead. Usually, the more time you spend planning something, the more successful you will be.
Sometimes, however, you have no control over the amount of time you have to complete a project. An unexpected project might come up and you’ll have to take care of it. In these cases, all you can do is make the best use of the time you have. With the exception of these unexpected projects, try to plan ahead as much as possible at work. When you plan ahead, these unexpected projects will be much more manageable.
How can you learn to plan ahead? Use these tips to help you make planning ahead your new habit:
- Look into the future
- Anticipate needs
- Use your calendar
- Ask questions
- Work ahead
Look into the future
In the workplace, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. This means, if you can see what’s coming, you will be much more successful in handling it than if it sneaks up on you. Have you ever had to chase someone? It’s harder to chase someone than to be chased. Since you don’t know which way this person is going to turn next, you have to react to each movement, leaving you one step behind. The same is true for planning ahead. If you don’t know what’s coming up, you will be forced to react to projects and tasks as they come your way. Try to think about the future and prepare yourself for upcoming tasks and projects.
To anticipate needs means to see a need before it even becomes an issue. This skill is very important in planning ahead, as it allows you to be proactive in your work. As you plan your projects and tasks, think about every angle. Even though no one wants to think about this, problems do come up. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself, “What could go wrong?” If you anticipate these possible problems, you can prepare for them, and maybe avoid some of them. By anticipating or planning ahead, when a problem does occur, you’re ready to handle it.
Use your calendar
A calendar is your best friend when planning ahead. You can use it to look ahead at upcoming events, seasons and holidays that might affect your workload. You can do yourself a big favor by taking note of how the changing seasons and holidays affect your workload. Then turn ahead to the next year and mark the dates, weeks or months as something to plan ahead for. A calendar will also help you to meet deadlines and benchmark goals as you work through your projects.
Have you ever heard the expression, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? Although it seems like an obvious statement, if you think about it this expression really applies to planning ahead. After all, how can you plan ahead if you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future?
In the workplace, you can rely on other people who may have worked there longer than you to keep you up to speed on what’s happening next. However, you can’t always trust that your coworkers will go out of their way to keep you informed. They might assume you know this information, or they might not think to tell you, so it will be up to you to ask. Ask your supervisor and coworkers what’s coming up and see if there is anything you can help with.
What’s better than being on schedule? Being ahead of schedule, of course! If you can work ahead on projects, you will be prepared for new projects that come up at the last minute. For example, if your supervisor comes to you with a project that needs to be done right away, you won’t have a problem putting your current project on hold for a while if you’re ahead of schedule. Working ahead will also give you a cushion of extra time in case something comes up that you didn’t plan for. Although you should try to anticipate all possibilities, sometimes things sneak up on us that we simply didn’t think about. If you are ahead of schedule you should still be able to meet your deadline, even with the surprise setback.
We hope you enjoyed our series on Planning and Organizing for success in the workplace. If you’d like to see how we can help your students learn these skills in order to become ready for the workplace, click the free trial link below.