Clock in Swirl

Stop Future Tripping!

Tips for Managing Your Custom Learning Projects in the Now

Hi, my name is Mel, and I’m a chronic future-tripper.

What’s that, you ask? In a nutshell, it means I worry about things in the future that haven’t even happened yet — or may not even happen at all — rather than focusing on the now. For instance, before a custom learning project has even started, I begin to future-trip on:

  • What if the deadlines move?
  • What if some of the resources aren’t available?
  • How will we get this completed if ABC is also going on?
  • What if [this] happens? What if [that] occurs?

Perhaps this stems from my Type-A personality…or maybe it comes from my years of experience and desire to avoid potential pitfalls. As a project manager at Innovative Learning Group, the questions I asked above may be important to address at some time. But, do they really need to be answered now? As I’m sure you’ve experienced, the best laid plans tend to change. Projects start off with a bang, but often the pace at which they proceed varies based upon team members’ priorities and availability. Schedules shift and change, frequently making the “future-tripping” questions I focused on earlier irrelevant in the end.

This year, I’ve made a conscious effort to decrease (or end!) my future-tripping excursions by:

  • Hitting the pause button! It’s important to stop and figure out if the future-tripping is adding value or is simply creating unnecessary distraction.
  • While on pause, assessing the impact of the immediate situation. Do I need to resolve it now, or is it still in the future? If nothing horrible is being impacted now, it may be better to let things settle down and come back to it later.
  • Applying my knowledge and experience managing a variety of custom training and performance support projects. Instead of jumping ahead to steps that may seem important in the moment, I’m going to focus more on applying what I know about how a client or coworker operates. For example, I may receive a request at the beginning of a project to plan only for one review of the new e-learning modules, but I also know that each time we reach the review phase, there are always three. By applying my knowledge and experience from past projects, I believe it will help me control my urge to jump ahead. 

Do you future-trip? Do you have any tips to share on what you did to slow down? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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