Do you remember the last time you received an email or message like this: “What time are you available?”. It might be from a colleague trying to set up a meeting or a friend who wants to hang out. Once you tell about your availability, the person may notice that it doesn’t work for them. Therefore, it may take a few more email exchanges to set up something.
Here is how the same question would be if the person thinks one step ahead: “What time are you available? I will share a meeting invite accordingly. I am available at 3 pm today and 4 pm tomorrow”. You would respond to this message by choosing one of the times mentioned or offer a few alternatives instead. According to Forbes, the average employee spends 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to emails. By thinking one step ahead, both you and your colleagues can save valuable time.
One of the best strategies to think ahead effectively is to ask “what if” questions.
- “What if I can’t find gas stations for the next few hours during the trip? Should we fill the tank up now?”
- “What if they don’t allow phones on the movie set? Should I bring a book to read while waiting?”
- “What if I am not selected for this job? Should I apply to other roles now?”
- “What if they don’t accept my visa application? Should I talk to another immigration lawyer?”
The more you ask “what if” questions, the more time you save and the better you are prepared.
I know that it is tedious to pause and think about what might happen. We want to keep moving and stay in action. I recommend using this easy way to figure out what may happen in the future: Imagine yourself in that situation.
Let’s say you are going on a trip. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at a point during your trip. If you are visiting family, think of yourself entering the house. What would you need to take to them? What would you need to have in your hand? If it’s a business trip, imagine yourself in the meeting. What would you wear? What would you discuss? Did you pack everything you need?