Earlier this week, a friend and former colleague asked on a Slack channel for resources to help plan the next five years. Along with others, I suggested the ikigai method, but then this morning explored further and came across this resource. It’s seems pretty good.
Planning for the future is something that I should be doing both personally and professionally. It’s something I’m used to doing. Something I help clients do.
I made a start but then kind of ran of steam. I wondered why. When I talked to a friend about it we agreed that it’s difficult to make plans when everything’s so uncertain. But then not to make plans makes us feel like we’re bobbing along a river, carried along by whichever way the currents take us.
Later, I read an article that came my way via a newsletter. I stopped planning. We need to give ourselves some space and not dive right back into the way things were. As the author says, we need to recharge.
I think the real problem is that life is still exhausting because the pandemic was and remains exhausting in so many invisible ways — and we still haven’t given ourselves space to even begin to recover. Instead, we’re just softly boiling over, emptying and evaporating whatever stores of energy and patience and grace remain.
So the first step is recognizing that you, too, need rest. Don’t just want it, don’t just fantasize about it, don’t just talk about it and then deny it, but need it, require it, in order to keep going. The second step is advocating for the structures that make it possible — on a personal, professional, and societal level — so that others can ask and receive rest too.
My wife’s currently working full-time through the summer months on a contract that’s allowed her to change careers. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but she’s not worked full-time since before our 14 year-old son was born, and (as a former teacher) she’s never worked through the summer.
Although it’s disrupted our routines, what her contract has allowed me to do is to gently take my foot off the accelerator pedal for a moment. It’s not time to put it back down again for a few weeks yet.
English translation of title: “Man Plans, and God Laughs”. Image from an original by Karen Bailey.
I was helping someone plan a workshop today. While I was no expert in the content, it made me realise there’s a common structure I’ve come to use.
1. Briefly introduce the workshop leaders. You’ll demonstrate your expertise later, and presumably the attendees were impressed enough by your credentials to book a place.
2. Allow participants to say something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but you could ask them to rank how they’re feeling out of 10, or finish the sentence, “if you really knew me, your know that…”
3. Get participants to do something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but if you’re using a new tool later, this is a good, low-stakes opportunity to ensure everyone can access it. You could ask people to add a stick note to a physical wall or a Google Jamboard indicating what they’re hoping to get out of the workshop.
4. Go through the structure of the workshop. Explain what you’ll be covering, when the breaks are, etc. Ideally, link this back to the previous activity, outlining how the workshop will meet the participants’ requirements.
5. Provide some input. If you need to explain a concept, go through some theory, or otherwise lecture participants, do it now! Try to keep it to 15 mins, then stop for questions. If you’ve got two workshop leaders (always a good idea!) switch it you need to provide more input.
6. Stop for a 15 min break. Tailor the length of your breaks to the needs of your participants (accessibility, age, etc.) but give them at least 15 mins.
7. Practice. After asking for any further questions after the break* give participants a chance to practice what they’ve been taught. If there’s no immediately-obvious way to do this, break into pairs or small groups to discuss how they could apply what they’ve learned in their job/life.
8. Provide a space to park ideas and people. Deal with latecomers, off-topic ideas, and other miscellaneous things by having a ‘clinic’ breakout room and ‘Parking lot’ board.**
9. Check in after lunch. Ask people what they had to eat. Food is an easy way for a group to bond.
10. Ask participants to commit to next steps. If there’s a follow-up workshop, set homework. If there’s not, ask participants to commit to an action, and then follow up with them via email / social media / pigeon after a specified amount of time.
There’s plenty more workshop advice I could give, but I’ll stop there for now. Perhaps one more bit: although you should have dedicated Q&A time, there should never be a time when it’s not OK for participants to ask a question.
* always pause for longer than you think you need to (e.g. drink from a water bottle or coffee cup to prolong the pause)
I was born in the second to last week of 1980 which, by some people’s reckoning either makes me one of the youngest in Gen X or possibly the world’s oldest Millennial.
What I’m trying to say is that being on the cusp of two generations means that you’re stuck between mindsets when it comes to technologies. One perfect example of this is the way that I plan my weeks. What I would like do do is plan everything digitally, what I actually take is a hybrid approach. I use a combination of Google Calendar, Trello, and other digital tools But also… this:
Above is the second version of my weekly planner. I’ve used an iteration of this every week for the past few years. When I’m feeling particularly under pressure, I use a daily planner (below) which is now my third version. The fonts don’t match between the two. I don’t care. Perfect is the enemy of done.
They should be pretty self-explanatory, and you’re welcome to use them, but they’re pretty much focused on my specific needs. I encourage you to make your own, as sometimes having a piece of paper on your desk in front of you adds to a sense of urgency and motivation to get stuff done.