When and Why You Should Have a Back-up Plan

Here’s hoping you’re ready for a great work week ahead…. And it will be great if you have every important “Plan B” in order.

What’s a Plan B? It’s the backup to Plan A, of course…. It’s your contingency, your lifeline, your sanity when the going gets rough and Plan A falls through. The thing is, we’re all so busy these days getting our first priorities squared away, we barely have time to consider the “what if” scenarios that are lurking out there. For example:

  • You’ve scheduled a flight from Baltimore to New York at a specific time so you can make a critical meeting later in the day. But the plane is delayed indefinitely. What’s your Plan B?
  • That report you completed yesterday has suddenly “vanished.” There’s no way to know what happened to it, and your boss needs it ASAP. What’s your Plan B?
  • Your eldest child is sick at school, but you’re expected to give a presentation in 10 minutes. What’s your Plan B?

The list goes on and on. I’m sure you can think of a number of times when having a Plan B would’ve been quite handy. (Of course, hindsight is 20/20.)

Bottom line: The skill you need to develop if you want to live a happier, more satisfying professional and personal life is the ability to ask the “what ifs” that can see you through a blip in your day or a catastrophe. Indeed, this is one of the key characteristics shared by the best known and most successful professionals out there.

That said, please understand that not every Plan A warrants a Plan B. (Your top priorities, responsibilities, job tasks and so on are worthy of Plan B reflection.) Further, sometimes having a general idea of how you’d handle a problem with Plan A is enough of a Plan B to act quickly – with decisiveness – so you remain effective.

So, this week, challenge yourself to find a little time to pause and reflect on your plans – and then flex your brain muscle and prepare for success in spite of life – in all its messy, unpredictable and exciting glory!

Joan Burge

“Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

How do you implement back-up plans in your work? We would love to hear your best methods in the comments below.


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2 thoughts on “When and Why You Should Have a Back-up Plan”

  1. Planning is essential, so, for repeated tasks, I believe that having a good system and network in place is as solid as having a Plan B.

    For example, I coordinate four, all employee (500+) luncheon debriefings a year. This September will be my 9th such event. I have this “system” down pat! I start by itemizing all the details, time lining all the tasks, adding reminders to my calendar, coordinating all the pieces – from presentation, to A/V, to IT, to venue set up, to catering, to clean up, to promoting intercompany, and on and on. My Plan B to all these items is to be sure and have my folder (filled w/plans, print outs of vendors’ invoices/contact information) in my vehicle the night before. I can then take it to the venue w/me day of the event and rest assured knowing I know who to call, for what, and when. Prior to the meeting, whether weeks, days, or days of just before the event takes place, I will also be sure to contact every single person involved and give a “friendly reminder” of what they are responsible for and just verify if they will be completed by deadline. The day of, another part to my Plan B is having an actual timeline of the event set up, during and after list. I am the task keeper, so if it’s 11:00 AM and IT still has not completed A/V set up, and I know they need to have the screen set by 11:30 PM, I just touch point across the room, “Hey, guys, how’s it coming? Are we going to be all set by11:15?” I assist or gather resources as needed.

    Even with all that planning, and resource setting, forethought of schedule, and task mastering – things still happen. So a real Plan B? Have a great reputation with being a problem solver. Have a great group of “go to” helpers/other admins that can jump-in and help where needed. Have a set of vendors’ phone numbers/quotes, lined up and ready to go. Run out of food? Start the presentation anyway, send a runner for 5-minute pick-up pizzas, or call ahead to a deli and have 100 standard subs made for pick-up. Basically, involve yourself with others, build relationships personally and professionally, and help others when THEY are in a pinch. Two of our core values here is to “heroically help one another,” and “be your brother’s keeper.”

    Planning is everything, but being someone who is considered an outstanding aide to others will always have a friend to help out in a pinch and that’s a really good, if general, Plan B, especially in event planning and execution!

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