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Complex Thoughts

Backward Planning for Campus Activities

The backward planning process is simple. Make a list of all the tasks which need to be completed before the program begins. Include publicity and advertising, space reservations, travel arrangements, accommodations, and all other tasks which will need to be accomplished. Using a calendar, start with the last task on your list to be completed before the program. Write it on your planning calendar on the appropriate date, and then consider its components. If there are component tasks which need to be completed, work backward with them and plug them into the calendar. Then proceed with the next to the last task to be completed, and so on.

For example, assume that your program begins on October 1. As you look through the list of 25 tasks which need to be completed between now, August 1, and then, you decide that visitors schedules should be completed and in the hands of those involved by September 29. Since you know that there are 10 schedules, you decide that they must be ready for typing by September 28. That means that you need travel schedules, times and places of activities, accommodations, and volunteers to host each visitor by that date. Perhaps you decide that you will have volunteers committed by September 26, travel schedules by September 23, contracted activities all firm by September 16, confirming letters or calls concerning activities and accommodations by September 9, contracts completed by September 2. You will then go back to your list and your calendar and go through the same process with the next task.

By working backward before you ever start to go forward, you run less chance of overlooking an important component, realizing that you have eight major tasks to complete by tomorrow, or not starting preliminary work in time to meet deadlines. By this process of careful pre-planning, you have a better chance for a smooth process which allows time to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.

ADAPTED FROM BACKWARDS PLANNING FOR CAMPUS ACTIVITIES BY SARA BOATMAN, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA–LINCOLN

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