Anticipated Schedule vs. Reality

Something happened this past week that I thought would be something valuable to share with you: my reprinting of our Open Doors text-workbook. I wanted to make a few small adjustments, and contacted my printer. I had my own timeline in mind, but reality turned out to be longer and more involved. In fact, there were almost 50% more steps involved (20 vs. 13).  Fortunately, because I know that projects can take longer than initially thought, I had mentally figured in extra time. 

Oftentimes people get frustrated because they don’t complete what they planned in the time they’ve given themselves. So often, it’s due to two reasons: 1) they haven’t thought through each of the steps required to complete it and 2) therefore, they’ve underestimated the time required. Furthermore, it’s always wise to build in “margins” for aspects of the project you can’t always control. This is especially true if you find yourself on a tight deadline. 

For example, you may have a history paper due next Monday on the life of Abraham Lincoln. You have x amount of days to complete it, including the weekend. As you think of the various parts needed to craft your paper, it’s wise not to assume that you can do all or part of it during the weekend. There may be unexpected activities that your family decides to do last minute, company may show up or church may take longer than normal. Any such normal occurrences may derail your plans, making you panic and stressed if you’re unable to finish it as planned.

Interruptions are just a part of life. This is why smart working adults understand and prepare for realistic “project management.” It helps them achieve success and accomplish tasks on time. 

You can apply project management principles to all your schoolwork or even chores or a part time job. Such planning helps you see the pathway needed to get them completed. To help you, I have provided you downloadable project management sheets here. Make as many copies as you need. You will note that on the first of the sheets, I illustrate how my Open Doors print process was intended – then I contrast the steps it actually required in the column to its right. 

Try that with something you’ve recently done. What did you plan, and what were the steps that you thought would get it finished – then, what actually took place? Compare the two. Chances are that you missed identifying something necessary when you were first planning your project. 

By understanding and working through this process, you can begin to apply this to your other responsibilities. You’ll find that it will help you think about commitments more accurately as you plan your work and work your plan!