How much time does it really take?

I was talking with a colleague this evening. We were discussing how much time things really take. (Always either far more or much less than many of us think.)

I am always astonished when I hear someone commit to something without really looking to see if they can deliver on what they are promising. For example, one person will schedule a seminar they are going to lead six weeks into the future, without confronting the fact that they will be away or otherwise occupied for five of those weeks. Leaving them one week to get all the preparation done. Not to mention the marketing, sales and registration.

How well do you think that is going to work? Yep, not very well. And I suspect there is a whole lot of overwhelm on the horizon.

I know she thought six weeks was plenty of time. After all – it is SIX weeks. However, when we looked at her schedule she could see that even though it was six weeks in the future – she would only have a few hours available the week before the target date to work on her preparation and making the seminar extraordinary. So, we shifted the schedule.

When you start to approach your planning with this in mind it can really look like you won’t get very much done. After all, you won’t be able to say yes to more than you really have time to do well. But, trust me, in the end you will get MORE done this way, and you will have far less stress to deal with while you are at it.

Which would you rather do? Cram 40-60 hours of preparation into a week where you already have a full schedule, or plan exactly when you are going to do your preparation – taking the bigger picture into account?