Well, if there is one thing predictable about projects… it’s that they are unpredictable.
Maybe we could argue that the people, places and things that are involved in projects are really the ones that throw off any sense or notion that things will go as planned, but in the end what’s most important is that we know… we accept it and prepare for it.
Now that we know, what can we do about it?
Some book titles conveniently come to mind right away… Don’t sweat the small stuff and Expect the unexpected …. the theme here being: Focus on your perspective and creativity to take on a challenge. Since it’s not humanly possible to be prepared for everything, you can still be in principle… “Ready for anything”
I find the more I accept it and set my expectations, the better equipped I am for the changes in direction, climate and velocity of a project. We all want things to go smoothly but allowing for some flexibility, can go a long way to reducing stress levels, creating better long term business relationships …and probably at home too. *I’ve yet to see someone who didn’t have problems with at least a little cross contamination between work and home life when it comes to stress… maybe you could be the first? 😉
What are some ways we try to expect the unexpected while not sweating the small stuff?
- Leaving yourself some breathing room when scheduling — even just thinking “maybe this project might not follow my rigidly set plan” could help
- Being realistic about projects from the beginning and not taking on something with a deadline you can’t or don’t want to meet (yes, we’re talking about stress again here)
- Don’t write checks that a certain unmentionable part of your body can’t cash 😉
- Get to know yourself and your team better — the less that is unexpected, the less you have to guess what to expect.
- Apologize when you see that you have been the cause of a delay – sweeping it under the rug doesn’t help. Promise to do better next time. But get it resolved quickly.
- Communicate ( Just being honest, this is the hardest one for me — I’m working on it – I don’t like letting people down, and sometimes forget to communicate until I know the answers that are holding things up )
- This last one might seem counter intuitive — but sometimes the best thing to keep from sweating the small stuff, is to get away from it all and do something else you love… come back fresh and ready to handle the twists and turns of the project. For me, that’s basketball, yoga, reading or a nap(that’s sounds like another blog post, the wonders of exercise and power naps — stay tuned).
So what’s your perspective?…
- Do you expect projects to go smoothly?
- Do you build a little room into your projects for the unexpected?
- When a project takes on a life of its own… how do you adapt?
The collaboration happens in the comments, share your thoughts… we all get a little better at expecting the unexpected.