Your Lack of Planning Does Not Create An Emergency For Me – Or Does It?

By Patty Gardner

Have you ever heard the saying, “Your lack of planning does not create an emergency for me?”  I love that saying and wish life really worked that way.  But it doesn’t.  The fact is that other people’s lack of planning creates emergencies for me all the time (and honestly, sometimes it’s me creating the emergencies!).  But if I refuse to help because they weren’t organized, I feel (and look) like a jerk.

So what do you do when you’re dealing with people who are chronically unorganized and keep creating emergencies for you?  Sometimes these strategies can help:

  • Anticipate.  Sometimes you can see the situation coming.  Because of past experience, you know what’s going to happen.  In that case, you prepare yourself mentally to deal with the emergency because now you know it is coming.
  • Plan Ahead.  This takes anticipating a step further.  You anticipate the emergency and you come up with a solution beforehand so it’s not an emergency for you.
  • Remind.  This one doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try.  If you know something’s coming up, remind the person involved in case they are willing to go ahead and act on it in a timely manner.  I’ve used this strategy a lot in the past.  Some people appreciate it and some don’t.  I worked with a music minister who did not appreciate it.  He was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person and any reminders felt like nagging and pushing.  I learned to back off and let the chips fall where they may.  It was very frustrating for me and I didn’t end up working with him much longer.
  • Do it yourself.  If you know what’s going to be needed, sometimes you can take care of it yourself.  Again, some people appreciate that and some don’t.  My boss at the law office where I worked loved it.  He’d come in at the last minute, tell me what he needed, and I already had it ready.  But he was unusual in that he was a great delegator.
  • Keep your routine tasks up to date so you can take the time to handle an emergency without creating a new emergency.  That same boss at the law office tended to throw last minute things at me all the time – many that I didn’t see coming.  So my daily strategy was to get as much of my regular work done as soon as possible so that when he threw an emergency at me, at least my regular work was caught up so I could focus on the emergency.

The bottom line is that not everyone is organized and that’s just the way it is.  Rather than fight it, it’s best to just accept it and do what you can to deal with it.  As Julie Morgenstern says:  “You can’t always control what life throws at you but you can control your response.”

Has anyone’s lack of planning created an emergency for you?  How do you handle it?


One Reply to “Your Lack of Planning Does Not Create An Emergency For Me – Or Does It?”

  1. Yes! There are times when I do want to use that phrase when people do not do the planning needed to get things done. This happened recently regarding an event involving some friends. I did what had to be done and the event went off as \”planned\”, but only because I took it over and made the original \”planner\” quite angry. The event was a success. The \”planner\” was a mess and did not even apologize for what she had failed to do. At first, I thought, \”So be it.\” and walked away. I bumped into her later and she did apologize, but then asked me to take over a number of her other tasks! Oy vey!

    As it happens, I have grown used to this person not being prepared, so I do he planning \”just in case\”. I know how I would prepare for things that I need to do. I have been doing this for many years. What irks me is that other people have come to expect me to be the \”backup\” and I know that it is unfair and puts friendship out of the equation and that hurts. As a result, I have become more reticent about joining committees or project teams.

    I have become very selective about the people I invite to join me in planning things. To some people, that that makes me a snob. So be it.

    I plan because life goes better by do so. I plan because I am out of patience with myself (and others) who refuse to do the simplest things toward getting themselves organized. I can lay out the whole process for them, if they are willing to learn, but that isn\’t what they want. They want to claim the credit for the finished project, but they do not want to do the work. Hmmm…

    Wow! I sound so negative! In reality, I am not. I am happy. I am fulfilled. I am blessed to have learned how to plan and execute my plans. I am very good at what I do. I am not unwilling to help. I am unwilling to be taken advantage of by others. I guess that makes me weird… So be it.


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