Backwards Planning

Backwards Planning

When I used to be a classroom teacher, my teaching partner would giggle at the way I planned.  You see, I’m a very visual learner and I needed to see a calendar (by the month), to plan out a unit/theme.  With my trusty calendar in hand, I would start to plan the end of the unit, and work my way backwards.  As crazy as that sounds, it worked for me.     

In my personal life I have used backwards planning to keep my family running like a well oiled machine.  As my kids have gotten older, the planning that goes on in my head is now being conveyed to them.  My reasoning?  I want them to know the ‘method behind my madness’ and my thoughts as I plan out things.  I also want them to learn how to do this as well.  Here’s a typical example of what goes through my head to backwards plan.  I start with the activity or appointment:Football practice on Monday at 6:00 p.m.  The following are the steps and thoughts that go through my head:

  1. If practice starts at 6:00, that means my son needs to eat by 4:00.
  2. If he has to eat by 4:00, that means I need to have a meal planned and started at 3:00 – 3:15 to have it ready to be eaten.
  3. If my son eats at 4:00, then he needs to know that he has about 30 – 45 minutes to fit in homework.  If he doesn’t have a lot of homework, he can do it when he gets home.  If he does have a lot of homework, some of it will need to get started before practice.
  4. He has to be at practice by 5:45 (at the latest) so we’ll need to leave by 5:30 (good thing the field is close by!)
  5. After practice, he will need to eat so I’ll need to have something ready (yes, a  second dinner!)

It sounds easy: Football Practice at 6:00 p.m., but in reality, it means my preparation needs to start at least 3 hours before!  If I hadn’t done any ‘backwards planning’, I would be unprepared, probably stop off at a fast food place to feed him, and most likely be late for practice.  No wonder I’m exhausted by the end of the season and looking forward to a break!  Although it can be a pain in the you-know-what, by backwards planning I have little to no stress.  I’ve planned it out using the end time and worked backwards to fit in all that needs to get done.  This allows me time to arrange my day, plan a meal (a few days in advance if need be), and fit in all that needs to get done.

Backwards planning can be done with any appointment or commitment you have.  If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to give it a try.  I’d love to know how it goes!

Happy backwards planning everyone!


The image used in this post is provided by Manostphoto’s Portfolio.

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