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How to avoid overplanning for work
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sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:29 pm    Post subject: How to avoid overplanning for work  Reply with quote    

This may sound like an odd thing to be asking, but bear with me-

I quite often give workshops, which is great and I love doing them, have done them for years so really should be unfazed by them, but I'm dreadful at overplanning for them.

Take tomorrow for example, I'm giving a one hour talk with hands on activity, and I've done a similar session before and know how much material I can get through in that time. All well and good, my box is packed and ready to go on that basis. I also know that if needs be, I can witter learnedly about the topic in question for probably hours, so there should be no reason why they shouldnt get however much info they feel like asking for.

But, and this is where I go a bit more pearshaped than usual, I always spend several days fretting that I don't have enough supplies/ factsheets/information for them, going round in circles checking my notes for things I know I already know, and generally being utterly inefficient.

When you think what the return is on an hours talk in a village hall for a small local group (about 25 round here, plus any odds and ends one sells over tea), its utterly inefficient of me to spend three consecutive evenings 'preparing' when in actuality I'm just going back over ground I already have checked.

aargh, I'm cross with mself, and I still can't stop fretting that I havent got enough material.

So, how do those of you who are very experienced at similar workshops go about planning your prep time, so you have any tips to stop me going in circles?

gil
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Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18395

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Depends on the audience / occasion, and what the punters' expectations are (beginners, students, work peers, WI, industry, etc).

For a village hall-type talk / class, keep it simple, and don't overburden the audience with loads of info. They've come for a good night out, not to stretch their brains (or bodies) that much. The hands-on, doing part of things is very important. Also to see examples of what it is possible to do if you know how / have the time (i.e. your work). Treat it as a taster session. As you say, they can always ask questions. Some material to take away and read later can be good, but not that much (I usually do 2-4 A4 sheets at most).

But I've found that there is always more material than time.

I prepare by leaving it till the last minute. I have a box with all the necessary stuff in, so no last-minute panics loading the car and forgetting to take essentials.

Sounds as though you've done a lot of this kind of thing before, know your subject thoroughly, and I'm sure you come across as an interesting and engaging speaker, who encourages the audience to have a try for themselves.

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

gil wrote:
Depends on the audience / occasion, and what the punters' expectations are (beginners, students, work peers, WI, industry, etc).

For a village hall-type talk / class, keep it simple, and don't overburden the audience with loads of info. They've come for a good night out, not to stretch their brains (or bodies) that much. The hands-on, doing part of things is very important. Also to see examples of what it is possible to do if you know how / have the time (i.e. your work). Treat it as a taster session. As you say, they can always ask questions. Some material to take away and read later can be good, but not that much (I usually do 2-4 A4 sheets at most).

But I've found that there is always more material than time.

Sounds as though you've done a lot of this kind of thing before, know your subject thoroughly, and I'm sure you come across as an interesting and engaging speaker, who encourages the audience to have a try for themselves.


Yep, agree with all of that, I do this all the time, but I still spend three times as long as I should triple checking everything, its so silly. I just convince myself that I don't have enough even when experience tells me I have.

I'm starting to realise that this is as big a barrier to effective working as underplanning is, its wretchedly inefficient and gives me a headache

gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18395

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Based on what you've taken to talks in the past, could you make a checklist for yourself, and just load the box up each time on that basis (especially regarding hand-outs), ticking off as you go ?

Have you kept the outlines / main headings of past talks you've given, with approx timings for each part (bit like lesson or lecture plans) ? Could you re-use or bolt bits together to make new talks ? Modular-like

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In a firm and lucid moment, make a tick sheet of what you need. When preparing for the night, complete the sheet and when everything is done.....stop!

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

spooky

Penny Outskirts



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 23385
Location: Planet, not on the....
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I know just how you feel. I do this when I teach business at the college.

Do you think it's because there has been an occasion when you haven't prepared enough, and it was a really horrid experience?

That's what it is in my case. I went to a lecture seriously under prepared, and just managed to pull it off by the skin of my teeth (I think) but I felt really guilty, so consequently always over prepared from then onwards

But do you find that once you get into it, it's really enjoyable?

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Penny wrote:

But do you find that once you get into it, it's really enjoyable?

Yes, absolutely, I always really enjoy it once I'm there, and to date I havent had any sessions where I ran out of steam or supplies too early.

Very good idea about the checklists, thinking about it I perhaps should probably also do a file of master copies of handouts too, then if I get called to do something at short notice I can just pick out the ones that fit the occasion best and know they are all tried and tested ones- which I sprt of do now but I always end up tweaking sheets for each new group.

Maybe I'm just a compulsive worrier

Home on the Hill



Joined: 06 Feb 2005
Posts: 313
Location: Warwickshire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I do some teaching and workshoppy things for my job. In our office we have boxes and box files labelled up for each course we deliver. In the box are display materials, master copies of handouts, a CD of any powerpoint presentation and the notes to go with it. In the teaching season (March-September) the boxes get weekly access by one of us, but they get ignored in the off season.
Could you set up something similar for yourself? Once you know it's organised, fill your time up with other commitments so you stop worrying (says a woman who always has too much to do!)

Hope that helps...Beth

woodsprite



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 2943
Location: North Herefordshire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hi Sally!
Like you I used to over plan but I worked out the best way for me to cope and this is it.
I use a basic lesson plan for each of my workshops, every time I'm asked to do something new, I write a lesson plan for it and add it to the file. If its a commission workshop I will email my standard plan to them a week before and ask if they want to tweak it and then I say what can or cannot be done. I also have 2 hour, 1 day, 2 days and 10 day plans within each subject. I make it clear that this is what I offer. I also have standard charges + travelling for each workshop.
My resources are boxed in see through plastic stacking boxes for each workshop and I've got a wipe clean list of contents taped to the top of each. After every workshop I mark what needs replacing/updating etc and then a couple of times a month I go through the lists and replace stuff so that I'm always ready to go with very little notice.
Sounds really anal when I write it down like this but it honestly works for me and I no longer panic.
J x

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 15032
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

sally_in_wales wrote:

Maybe I'm just a compulsive worrier


I think maybe you just hit the nail on the head there. I'm a compulsive winger. I can't count the number of times of got through on the skin of my teeth, and every time I do, it re-inforces the fact that I can get away with it.

However, this is always when working on someone else's behalf, not for myself - I think it would be different if it were for me. I hope.

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34272
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 08 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I've done this too. Laid awake at night the day before I give training, or similar. Tons of prep, and the training always turns out really well. It's because I'm good at it. That's why my company get me to do it. So, I can relax.

So, next time, wing it. Do bugger all preparation, and get the others to join in. What do they want out of it? Have them set the agenda. You know plenty enough to cope with anything they can throw at you. You're good at it. That's why you get asked. It's not hard for you. It's what you live and breathe. So, don't sweat it. Be Sally, relaxed and an expert. You'll find you get a lot more out of it, which means so do they.

But, if it's the way you're built, it's the way you're built. Maybe some of us are wingers, and some of us are worriers.

Stacey



Joined: 18 Jul 2005
Posts: 8380
Location: Kernow
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

wellington womble wrote:
sally_in_wales wrote:

Maybe I'm just a compulsive worrier


I think maybe you just hit the nail on the head there. I'm a compulsive winger. I can't count the number of times of got through on the skin of my teeth, and every time I do, it re-inforces the fact that I can get away with it.

However, this is always when working on someone else's behalf, not for myself - I think it would be different if it were for me. I hope.


I worry and then wing it

boisdevie1



Joined: 11 Aug 2006
Posts: 3897
Location: Lancaster
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I don't have an answer for you. BUT it's something you really need to deal with. If you spend 3 hours preparing for a talk that nets you 25 quid then you're effectively working for very little.

Rosemary Judy



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 1215
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I also do lots of presentations - and some as part of my salaried job and some as freelance.

I feel proper preperation is important, and I work it in to the fee I am getting - so a big fee gets a thorough rewrite of my lesson plan and props and handouts, and a small fee only gets a quick 'have I got it all' check. This keeps the hourly rate I work for at reasonable rather than pittance

I use tick lists too

and boxes - old cardboard ones that photocopy paper comes in

and lesson plans, with an Aim and objectives and a timed plan of what I do when

Daft question, but have you done a teaching course at evening classes Sally ?
Mine helped me no end - even if it was donkeys years ago and no longer exists.....

But I taught a new course to student dietitians two weeks ago and spent all weekend and a sleepless night on it

It went really well !
so do as I say and not as I do....

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