“Here’s what I’m doing”

My wife and I occasionally employ a social planning strategy we call, “Here’s what we’re doing.” We’ll pick something we want to do and make our plans—then we’ll invite any and all interested friends to join us, like this:

“We’re going to see [this movie] on [this day] at [this time and place]. We’d love for you to join us!”

Whoever shows up, shows up. But the decision of what to do and when to do it has already been made. We put a definite plan in place and add some interested friends with minimal effort.

A less-specific invite (“Does anyone want to see a movie this weekend?”) opens up the scheduling can of worms. Countless emails go back and forth with different preferences of what to do, where, and when to do it. What could have been an easy social outing turns into a complex consideration of how to make everyone happy.

It’s not something we do often (real friends are good to each other and don’t always have to get their way). But the occasional “Here’s what we’re doing…” gets a plan on the calendar, eliminates unnecessary back-and-forths, and pleases those who are predisposed to enjoy the outing.

This can be a good strategy to get things done at your work, club, or organization, too.

An open suggestion like, “We should start a newsletter for our students,” can open up a lot of discussion about whether or not this is a good idea. Discussion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But too much input from too many sources (many of whom weren’t all that interested in participating) can ultimately lead to no newsletter at all. The only way to know if it will work is to try it. So make the decision to take action, then invite people to join you.

“I’m going to write a newsletter for our students. The first issue will go out on March 1. Would anyone else like to work on it with me?”

Now, the decision to write the newsletter has already been made. Those who are really interested can jump in, and everyone else can opt out. And any discussion that takes place will be about the content, not about whether or not the newsletter is a good idea.

“I’m going to do a hill workout in the canyon this Saturday at 10 a.m. Would anyone like to join me?”

“I’m going to take private lessons with the first chair flutist in the community symphony. We’ll get a discount if we go as a group. Would anyone like to join me?”

“I’m spending the next three Saturdays picking up trash on the beach with an environmental group. I’ll go surfing afterwards and eat some of the world’s best chili fries from the burger stand. Who’s with me?”

“Here’s what I’m doing,” isn’t always appropriate socially or professionally. Friends, co-workers, and teammates should be open to what other people think and want, too.

But when things just need to get done or get moving, try, “Here’s what I’m doing” and see how much faster you get things accomplished.