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How to avoid overplanning for work
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gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18379

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
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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: 14971
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: 34031
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....

woodsprite



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 2943
Location: North Herefordshire
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Fair point Bois. Sally I hope you charge an awful lot more than that no matter how much planning you do!

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

boisdevie1 wrote:
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.


Normally I charge by a daily rate, but then you get the 'village hall circuit' which has a fixed budget for speakers and its always about 25 to include travel etc. I charge a bit per head if there are materials for a workshop, but its still not a lot. Its one of the odd things about talks and workshops, there is this big jump between the local hall audience and the day workshop

sneeuwklokje



Joined: 08 Mar 2006
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 08 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You need to be really honest with yourself: why the need to check, check, check? It sounds to me like you might be dealing with a classic case of performance anxiety coupled with a very high degree of perfectionism. The performance anxiety goes when you are "on" so to speak; and the constant checking comes with the fear of making mistakes, or wanting everything to be "just right" / perfect. Which of course, is impossible. Could this be you? That's not a good combination if you leave it for a protracted period without doing something about it.

If you know beyond doubt that you have all your materials, and you know what you are going to cover in that particular session, - and it sounds like you are organised etc from what you have said and you know what you are doing - then after checking it all ONCE and once ONLY, leave it alone and go and do something else instead. You will have to be very strong about this and very self disciplined because you will be starting to break a habit of checking. You might need to go and practice relaxation techniques, or go out of the house or I don't know, do something that actually relaxes you as opposed to something that keeps your mind whirring on and on. Lots of people are totally unable to do this and yet it is a very valuable skill.

Be aware of your target audience as others have said: don't over swamp them. If you are a good lecturer, you will soon know if you are boring them rigid; or if they are not coping with the level of material you are presenting. As you are quite specialised in your field, is anyone else going to know if you totally screwed up? I highly doubt it. And of course, you won't totally screw up because you are very good at what you do.

So, remove the fear and enjoy the preparation as well as the delivery.

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