By Gerald Sherman
This past Sunday my wife and I were invited to a farewell BBQ for Captain Christopher, (last name withheld), a career officer in the United States Marine Corps, who is leaving on another overseas assignment.
The previous week we met for lunch in Boca and I said, “I don’t want to take up too much of your time because you have so many other things to do.” Chris looked me in the eye and said, “Unk Jerry, I have the whole afternoon blocked out for you.” (He jokingly calls me Unk Jerry although we are not related). He explained to me that his training included how to track your time. That interested me as I sometimes feel that I didn’t accomplish everything I thought I would for the day. Although I try to plan my day around business appointments I make, at times I don’t get other things done. There must be a way of including other tasks that I want to accomplish.
At the BBQ, I mentioned to Chris about the time he blocked out for me the previous week. “Do you have a system that I should know about?” He said, “Yes, we are taught to work backwards in planning our daily activities. “Working backwards? He said, “What I do is write a plan for what I have to do and block it out on my time schedule. For example, my wife and I have a dinner date to say good bye to my friends at 7 p.m. tomorrow. I block out the time for the event. It’s a half hour away from my house so I block out 6:30 to 7 p.m. travel time. It takes an hour to get dressed and get ready so I block out 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to get ready, and so on and so on. By working backwards and blocking the time out you are sure not to be late for your appointment and get a realistic picture of your plans.
It is interesting to note that a company like Weight Watchers does something very similar in the way they have you track your allotted points for the day. For example, if you have 29 food points for the day, you deduct whatever you consume from the 29. If your breakfast was 5 points then you have 24 left to work with and you keep deducting until you reach 0 points. They probably have found that working backwards helps you go forward towards achieving your goal.
It seems that going backwards to go forward could work in a daily business schedule too. For example, if you have a 2 p.m. appointment and you know that you need to have your lunch first, subtract your travel time and lunch time from the 2:p.m. appointment to assure that you are there on time.
By planning your schedule this way you can make sure that you get everything important that you planned for the day done. You will also get a realistic picture of whether you planned too much for the day and are unable to meet your commitments. Nothing can upset a client or prospective client more than being late or not being able to keep the appointment. So if you want to go forward with your clients track your time backgrounds.