Planning for Contingencies

When I advise clients on Time Management, I always explain the importance of leaving time in your schedule for the unexpected to occur.

This value of this advice was brought home to me a few days ago when I was going to a client appointment.   I was on my way to the catch the crosstown bus to take me from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where I live, across Central Park to the Upper West Side, where my client lives.  I could see the bus arriving at my stop, but I was still on the other side of 86th Street, a busy two-way street.  As soon as the light changed, I tore across the street, running to make sure that I would be on that bus and get to my appointment on time.

Fate had other plans. I made it to the sidewalk on the other side of 86th Street, but then my foot caught on an unevenness in the sidewalk, and I felt myself flying through the air.  Down I went!  A crowd immediately gathered, asking if I was okay.  My leg was in pain, and my pride was even more wounded, but I assured them I was fine.  I leapt to my feet, continued running, and made the bus.

Once on the bus, I had time to sit and take stock of the damage.  My left leg was scraped up and bleeding.  I used an antibacterial wipe I had in my purse to clean the wound and try to stop the bleeding a little.  Then I pulled out my iPhone and searched for a drug store on the other side of the park.  I discovered that there was a CVS a couple of stops before where I usually get off.  I got off there, went to CVS to buy some first aid supplies, and limped the few blocks to my client’s apartment.

And I got there on time!

My client was very sympathetic while I patched myself up.  Then we started our organizing session and the disaster of my leg was put aside in favor of continuing our progress together.

On the bus ride home, I began to think about this event from a time management perspective.  Luckily I had left enough time to get from my home to hers to allow some unplanned event to intervene.  Of course, I hadn’t been thinking about an injury when I planned my departure time — I was thinking more of a long wait for a bus, or heavy crosstown traffic.

But that’s the nature of the unexpected.  It’s hard to plan for.  The important thing is to leave time between events so that you don’t have get stressed when it occurs.

Next time I’ll leave myself enough time that I won’t feel like I need to run for the bus.  I’ll just let it go and wait for the next one.  Well, at least until the current injury heals.

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