Your Daily Dose of Time Management Medicine – Leave Some Wiggle Room

How often do things happen that are out of your control? Is it safe to say this happens regularly, even daily? Well this happened to me this morning. I took my normal route to the office which is 26 miles from my house. The drive normally takes me 35 minutes in light traffic and can take as long as 45 minutes to an hour in heavy traffic.
As I do every evening, I looked at my calendar last night to make sure I knew what was on my agenda to start my day. I had a web conference scheduled for 9:30 am and planned to get to the office at 9:00 so that I could review the meeting material and plan the rest of my activities for the day before my meeting.
This morning made me realize again why I am a committed planner. As I said at the beginning, there are many things that happen that are out of our control; so it is a good practice to consider these unseen factors into our plans as much as possible.
On my drive this morning, the closer I got to my normal freeway onramp the slower traffic got. Just before my on ramp it got so slow it would have been faster to get out and walk. There I was stuck. I couldn’t make a left turn, right turn, or U-turn. I just had to wait. Finally I got close enough to see a huge lift with a man working on the power lines above the street. I looked at the time and realized it was 9:00 am. I still had 30 minutes to make my web conference so I wasn’t too worried.
I still called the other parties scheduled for the conference to notify them of my situation, just in case. Wall Street Journal Stocks I made it to the office at 9:20. Enough time to get a coffee and get mentally prepared for my meeting.
Leave Some Wiggle room – I’ve been doing it so long that I don’t remember where I heard it first. At some point I started leaving at least a Business Manager Education 30 minute buffer between appointments. So that when I finished my short web conference at 10:00 am I had 30 minutes until my next meeting.
One of the factors that helped me decide to adopt this practice was seeing so many managers rush from one meeting to another. It seems that some people show up right on time and then, many of those same people will complain that a meeting is boring and criticize the meeting content and purpose. I don’t do well if I’m not prepared and focused before a meeting starts; whether I am running the meeting or simply attending. So, it’s no wonder that many people don’t get much out of some meetings.
I find that when I review the agenda and any material that was sent with the meeting invitation, I am much more prepared and able to add to the value of the meeting for myself and others thus making the meeting as meaningful as possible.
This “Wiggle Room” principle applies to your task list as well. If you think a task is going to take an hour, add 20% to 25% to the completion deadline. This helps you under promise and over deliver on your deadlines.
It’s a fact that the better you plan, the better your result will be. Skeptics may ask what I do with the time I gain when nothing unexpected happens. The answer is, more of my top payoff activities. Some might think that planning takes more time that it yields. The reality is that lack of planning creates problems regardless of uncontrollable circumstances.
You may have heard the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”. It’s true, and giving yourself time to think and prepare in between every task is a top ten productivity practice in my book.
Are you a planner? Does planning come naturally or are you like me and have to work at it?
Do you give yourself wiggle room? If not are you going to try it after reading this?
Please get involved by leaving a comment of asking a question.

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