Take a longer-term look at planning

March 11, 2022
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Home 9 +Good Newsletter 9 Take a longer-term look at planning

When I first visited my now-fiancé’s apartment, something immediately caught my eye. It wasn’t the collection of guitars, or even the enviable library of economics books (though that did win him many bonus points).

In one of the rooms of his home, there is a floor-to-ceiling whiteboard wall.

I was awestruck. 

For a planner like me, this setup was a dream come true. Think of all the ideas you can hash out! The brainstorming! The calendars! The lists!

It’s a huge blank canvas upon which to craft something beautiful, which we are now using as a repository for wedding ideas.

As I’ve thought more about it, I realize I love the whiteboard wall because it symbolizes the big picture. It represents space and vision and foresight. It’s forward-looking. It’s the very opposite of the day-to-day myopic view of my computer. 

And as I start to dream about a wedding, I’m realizing that we in the nonprofit world need to reevaluate the way we do our planning. It’s too nearsighted. Too immediate.

Too much computer, not enough whiteboard. 

The urgent tasks in any given day are endless. The “do-this-nows” pile up, leaving us with no margin to think about what’s happening next week, let alone six months from now. No one is going to give you the space to breathe—you have to take it

It’s up to us to disrupt the pattern and pull ourselves up to a broader view. It’s up to us to take a longer-term look at planning. 

When you start arranging a wedding, you can download checklists from Pinterest that tell you what to do 18, 12, 9, 6, 3 months before your event. These guides give you an enormously long on-ramp to your big day so that:

  1. You stay organized.
  2. You prioritize the right things first. 
  3. You keep your stress to a minimum. 

What if we could achieve those same objectives at work? What if we could use the magic of long-term planning to stay organized, prioritize the right things, and operate stress-free? 

Yes please. 

Here at Swell+Good, we’re big believers in whiteboard thinking—and we love helping organizations start looking farther ahead on the horizon. We talk about winter when it’s still spring. We know what big holidays and events and campaigns are coming down the pike months in advance. We even built a content calendar template that we’d love to share with you for free! Just reply and let us know you’d like a copy.

It’s not easy to break free from the tyranny of the urgent, but it will make your work—and your stress levels—so much better. The creative brilliance happens when you have time to breathe, think, and brainstorm. If you’re like me, it happens when you’re at the whiteboard.

So give yourself the space and freedom to think big-picture, dream forward, and plan long-term. (Literally carve out the time. Block your calendar. Be ruthless. It’s the only way.) And let us know how we can help! 

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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