Have you ever told someone that you would do something for him/her - and then found that it was impossible to do because you had promised time that you didn’t have?

What about the times when you planned to complete a couple of projects on a Saturday afternoon (or a Tuesday morning by the noon deadline) and discovered that you were stressed out of your mind trying to get them done - and you weren’t even interrupted?

This happens (to all of us) because we do not know how much time we have “available to promise.” The idea of ATP (Available to Promise) is one that comes from supply chain management and logistics. A simple definition from Wikipedia is:

“Available-to-promise (ATP) is a business function that provides a response to customer order enquiries, based on resource availability. It generates available quantities of the requested product, and delivery due dates. Therefore, ATP supports order promising and fulfillment, aiming to manage demand and match it to production plans.”

Think about this as a business owner who carries product. If you ship product to others, before you promise a customer that you can ship the product to him/her, you check your inventory to see how much you have available. If it’s not available, YOU DON’T PROMISE IT, right? You don’t promise it because you don’t have it available to promise. That’s the concept of ATP.

But somehow, we have never made the transition to thinking about our time, energy, and other non-tangible resources as inventory. Well, it’s time that we did so because we are suffering the consequences of promising to deliver something that is not available. If you promise that you can complete a project for a client and it is going to take you 8 hours of uninterrupted time to complete it and you only have 4 hours of uninterrupted time, then you are NOT going to deliver. Your client will be upset and your reputation will suffer.

The first thing you have to do is figure out what your inventory is. If you carry product, you have a way of tracking inventory and you need to do the same for your time. Is there a way to do this?

Yes, there is. You can use your planner (calendar in conjunction with your to-do list) as a way of starting to get a sense of what you have promised and also what time is available to deliver on those promises. I will promise you that you will be stunned when you do this exercise.

And remember, it took you time to get completely “depleted” as far as your time inventory goes. It will take some time to get it built back up again, but if you pay attention, you can do so.

For a full class and materials on using the Available to Promise concept in your professional and personal life, just go here:

http://justwhelmed.com/ATP.php.  You will learn a multitude of ideas to support you in your quest to be “just whelmed” instead of over (or under) whelmed.

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