The Beauty of the Contingency plan

When it comes to time management, I only wish I could set myself up to succeed!

I've referenced my lateness before - and while I'm always trying to retool the way I think about time - I think I just might have come up with something brilliant. My epiphany came recently - in the shower - as I was racing against time to shower, get ready, and leave within a 30-minute window of time. Oh, and did I mention I needed to send three emails, pack the girls some snacks, and press my pants before I left?

Yeah, see, that's my problem. I plan and allot time for various tasks that I need to complete before going somewhere, but the amount of time I allow is well, a little off. But I've actually improved since my early days, and, in my estimation, the example I gave above is a bit of an exaggeration. (My husband and sister would probably disagree...but this is my blog. Thankfully.)

But what I absolutely don't allow any time for is a contingency plan. I assume that nothing will go wrong, there won't be any children to waylay me, and that my tasks will fall into place as planned.

There's no padding on my list of tasks - if it takes me 10 minutes to shower, I allot 10 min to shower, and not a moment more.

But what if I drop the soap in the shower and it goes down the drain?

What if one of the girls comes in while I'm drying my hair and they need something urgently (e.g. to have their fairy wings fastened to their princess dress)?

What if the iron makes an unfavorable mark on my pants?

What if there's construction on the road?

These things happen...daily...and yet I never build in contingency time to account for these occurrences.

It's a similar mistake I used to make with lupus. I never allowed for a contingency plan, in the event that my disease started to act up - when I was going out, meeting up with others, or making commitments to myself.

But I learned that the best way to deal with both my unpredictable chronic illness and the high expectations I set for myself was to give myself an "out". During the time when lupus was at its worst, here were the ground rules I set for myself:

Going out: I would drive separately so I could come home early and not disrupt anyone else's plans. This didn't apply to my husband so much (because he was always shuttling me everywhere), but when I went out with friends or co-workers, it was always best to drive separately so I didn't feel guilty about leaving early.

People coming over: I forced myself to have a take-out option available. I would plan to make food for our guests, but if the day before or the day of I found that I felt really bad, I'd whip out the phone, or Johnny would make a stop at the store - the prepared foods section - and we'd be set. I didn't like doing it, but I learned to tolerate it.

Saying yes to plans: I would always mention the possibility that I might have to bail. Sometimes, I chalked this up to lupus, saying something like, "As long as I'm feeling well, I'm in!" Other times, I would just casually mention that, "In the event that I have to cancel, I'll be sure to give you as much notice as possible." That way, when it came to pass, I didn't feel like a heel.

And in the end, setting myself up to alter my plans, if necessary, gave me the ability to make plans in the first place. (See more on this in blog posts past.)

So here's to applying that same contingency-laden attitude to my current lifestyle. If it takes me 10 minutes to shower, I'm going to allow 20 minutes to get the job done.

Ugh. That almost hurt to type. But attempt, I will. And I'll be sure to keep you posted! (I estimate that future post to take 30 minutes...tops.)


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