Monday, April 04, 2011

Backwards Planning, Or Planning From Both Ends

Some people are very lucky.  They just have a great knack for planning things well and finishing early or at least on  time.  That's not me.  I remember those years when I've had to pull all-nighters to finish things, like cleaning for Passover or cooking for some big event.  When I was young, it was no big deal, but now I just can't do it.  I don't function without my usual night's sleep.  I also don't handle stress well.

During one of the professional training courses I took as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher I was introduced to the concept/technique of "backwards planning."  Basically you start with your goal, all the stages needed and the time you really have.  Graph, chart it out in writing.  Add time for the "unexpected" and reasonable breaks.

Yes, everything should be reasonable and realistic or your planning is a total waste of time.

Yesterday, one of my tutoring students came to me all panicked that she just got her English Project assignment.  Actually, the truth was that she had gotten it weeks ago and lost it.  So now, instead of two months to do it, she has only a month.  I put on my "coach" cap and told her to make a checklist of all the different stages.  There wasn't a checklist in the booklet, unfortunately.  When I had taught in the classroom, I gave the kids a checklist with dates for each stage.  By breaking the complex assignment to various steps and stages according to a realistic time-table, she should be able to finish on time without any problem.

Another use of the backwards, or from both ends planning technique in the any language and literature or history classroom is when there's a sequency assignment or test question.  I instruct my students to look at each event and mark it either:
  • beginning
  • middle
  • end
That way one is dealing with fewer choices in each "stage."

Many of us Jewish housewives and other householders, male and female, are now stressed out about how we're going to be ready for the Passover holiday, which begins in just two weeks.

The same can be done for Passover cleaning.  What must be done at the very last moment?  Change the dishes.  What can be done at any point, even especially first?  Cleaning the bedrooms, unless you eat in them.  What is just cleaning and not really a chametz (forbidden on Passover) cleaning?  The windows.

If, on a year like this year when the Seder is a Monday night and you want to change the kitchen to Pesach mode a few days earlier in order to do your cooking beforehand, what can be last?  The bedrooms.

This year I'm extremely busy, and I'm a year older than I was last year, and I don't have the budget to hire help.  But we've hardly had guests in the bedrooms, so they are dirty, but they're not filled with chametz.  I moved the beds and cleaned well in the kids/guest rooms a couple of weeks ago, before Purim.  So now I don't need to do a super-thorough cleaning there.  My room needs a good cleaning, because I never clean it well, but there's no real food chametz in it.  But if I don't get to it, my house is still going to be kosher for Passover.  Bathroom cleaning is always a good idea.  My husband is assigned the den.  I'll also have to clean the laundry room.  For that I'll need some help to empty it out within reason.

There are all sorts of foods I haven't bought for months, because we have enough until Passover.  There are a few things in the freezer we must finish within the next two weeks or give to neighbors.  The freezer really has emptied out.  We have had to buy less food, a savings before Passover.

Our plan is to switch the kitchen to Passover dishes before Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat immediately before Passover and eat chametz food on disposables, like some people do when the Seder is a Saturday night.

This week when I cook for Shabbat, I must also cook whatever food I can for the following Shabbat, Shabbat HaGadol, and freeze it.  That Thursday/Friday, my usual pre-Shabbat cooking days will be kitchen cleaning days for Passover.  That's the general outline.

Good luck.  I hope this will help you.


Hadassa DeYoung said...

Yes indeed - organized stages are essential for some people, and for others the "done" check marks piling up are a useful incentive.

Hadassa said...

That was actually me, not my husband.

Batya said...