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Why Successful People Will Never Neglect A Backup Plan

Why Successful People Will Never Neglect A Backup Plan

A contingency plan doesn’t sound like what you would discuss with friends over cake and coffee, but it’s an essential part of any actual plans you make. You may need one (or more) for your business, school project, or even a family vacation. The biggest problem with making a contingency plan is that people often aren’t sure about what to include in it. Here is a handy guide for you to make a comprehensive one.

What is a contingency plan?

A contingency plan is a set of actions that you will take when something unexpected happens. Think of it as a backup plan, or a Plan B. It should have instructions that you can follow when your original plan doesn’t work out due to changes in the situation.

A contingency plan prepares you to deal with any future troubles you may encounter, and gives you some sort of escape route out of any accident.[1]

What happens if you don’t have a contingency plan?

If something goes wrong with your Plan A unexpectedly, or if accidents force you to change your current plan, chances are you will panic. Especially if you’re not well prepared to deal with contingencies, you probably can’t think straight enough to come up with the solution you need at that moment. You won’t know what to do.

What’s worse, until you’re able to get the situation under control, business can’t go back to normal. You’ll have to fix the trouble and make new plans.

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What if the contingency plan is a bad one?

Don’t think making a contingency plan is a simple task. A contingency plan should be comprehensive, which requires lots of careful consideration. Otherwise, it is not helpful.

For instance, you may be prepared for the wrong kinds of accidents. And when your plan doesn’t work out as expected, you won’t be organized enough to handle the crisis. That is, you’ll panic.

How can a contingency plan benefit you?

For instance, a contingency plan allows you to deal with accidents quickly and effectively.[2] In a business scenario, it can even help you save time and cost in repairing the situation.

Also, a contingency plan helps minimize the negative consequences or losses caused by the unexpected event. It guides you to start dealing with the situation as soon as something goes wrong and keeps you safe.

After all, having a contingency plan ready is reassuring, because you won’t have to worry about making new plans in a rush.

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You may think that accidents are unlikely. You may think that your Plan A is perfect. However, you should keep in mind that the future is uncertain until it becomes the present, and that we as human beings can’t control 100% of what happens. You don’t want to regret not having a contingency plan when it’s too late!

How to write a good contingency plan?

There are basically 5 steps:[3]

    We’ll now go through them one by one:

    1. Identify

    As a contingency plan has to do with what’s unexpected, you have to first try and predict the risks:[4]

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    • What could possibly go wrong?
    • How likely it would go wrong?
    • What’s the impact and consequences of the contingency?
    • What should be your reaction or solution?
    • How can you prepare for it in advance?

    2. Prioritize

    Using what you’ve written down in Step 1, rank your risks by their possible impact and likelihood. The more likely the risk will happen and the more serious the impact will be, the higher it should rank.

    You have to decide how much weighting to put on each risk according to your situation.

    3. Plan

    The next step is to actually write your contingency plan. Keeping in mind the resources available to you, design solutions to the risks you want to cover in the plan. Be realistic about your needs: perhaps some issues have to be dealt with before some others, or perhaps you have to take actions within a certain time frame, etc.

    It is also important to give clear and simple instructions, so that you won’t forget what you’ve written months later, or that someone will misunderstand them.[5]

    4. Execute

    If your contingency plan involves other people, say, your colleagues or your family members, talk it through with them. Let them know what they’re supposed to do when certain things happen.[6] Prepare them.

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    Then, if your plan includes actions to prepare for future accidents, execute them. This can help you lower the risks.

    5. Review

    Changes happen all the time. For your contingency plan to be practical, you should review it and make adjustments regularly. Evaluate the items in your plan. Over time, some risks may become more or less likely, or may bring about different outcomes. Learn your situation well, and update your solutions accordingly.

    If your plan is about large-scale risks such as natural disasters or server failures, conducting drills is very helpful to identifying any weaknesses of the plan, as well as making sure the people involved will be prepared to act according to the plan when they have to.

    Some concrete examples to put things into perspective:

    Example 1: Contingency plan for an outdoor exhibition

    • Potential risk: Rain
    • Who will be affected: Exhibitors, visitors, organizers and crew members
    • Action 1: Secure exhibit items
      • Who will take action: On-site crew members
      • Preparation: Rain-proof covers for exhibitors’ stalls, email exhibitors with weather forecasts 3 days in advance
    • Action 2: Lead visitors to sheltered areas
      • Who will take action: On-site crew members, security guards
      • Preparation: Mark designated areas as no-parking areas, waterproof jackets for crew

    Example 2: Contingency plan for delivering a speech to a big group of audience (co-workers)

    • Potential risk: The projector or the computer doesn’t work
    • Who will be affected: Me
    • Action: Write outline and key points on whiteboard as I speak
      • Who will take action: Me
      • Preparation: Notes in hard copy, 3 colored markers, printed handouts

    Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

    Reference

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    Wen Shan

    Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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    Published on January 7, 2021

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

    If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

    Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

    You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

    When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

    Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

    In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

    Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

    3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

    Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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    1. Respect deadlines
    2. Understand the work-flow plan
    3. Build in time to mess up

    1. Respect Deadlines

    Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

    One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

    2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

    Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

    3. Build in Time to Mess Up

    You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

    Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

    For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

    Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

    This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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    Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

    Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

    Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

    When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

    12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

    Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

    1. Learn to Listen Well

    You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

    Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

    2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

    Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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    3. Follow Rules

    Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

    4. Take Notes

    Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

    5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

    When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

    As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

    6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

    If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

    7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

    English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

    8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

    Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

    9. Minimize Distractions

    It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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    If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

    10. Take Breaks

    It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

    11. Make Time for Reflection

    At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

    12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

    This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

    Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

    Final Thoughts

    Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

    When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

    More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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