Have you ever run through an airport to catch a connecting flight, heart pounding, chest heaving, only to end up missing it? If so, then you can relate to not having enough buffer time to get from one airport gate to the next. This experience recently happened to me—I made my flight, but it was too close for comfort and I was so frustrated that the airline hadn’t allowed for enough buffer time.
It makes sense to add buffer time to many things we do in life. For example, if we have an important appointment that we just can’t be late to, we add buffer time to the commute in case traffic or the weather is bad. Better to be early than late!
The whole concept of buffer time is something we talk about in many of our workshops. We encourage instructional designers to add buffer time when they’re designing a course, and we also recommend project managers add buffer time to juggle the many training projects they have.
When designing training, here are three reasons to add buffer time to your courses:
1. Extra time in your courses allows for spontaneous group discussions and for questions to be asked and answered. Allowing for this kind of interactivity increases the quality of your instruction and the overall quality of your session.
2. Participants often return from breaks or lunch a bit late. Allowing for extra time in your course design means you’ll stay on track with your lesson plan, and ensures your learners can get those much needed physical and mental breaks for refreshments, restroom visits, phone calls, emails and check-ins.
3. Extra time allows for flexibility and slight changes in your lesson plan. Once you’re in the training room, you may discover the participants know more (or less) than you’d expected, so having that buffer lets you adjust accordingly.
When managing multiple training projects, here are three reasons to add buffer time to your project timelines:
1. Inevitably, delays will pop up when you’re managing a project, so buffering in some extra time allows for unexpected delays—being ready before a project deadline is always preferable to being late!
2. Planning some extra time in your projects allows you to assign or re-assign tasks if you experience difficulties, or if a team member is having problems getting their part of the project done on time.
3. Building in extra time in your projects allows for celebration with your team to mark important milestones and enhance group morale.
Planning for a little extra time beforehand will save you time and frustration in the long run, with no heart pounding or last minute dash! Check out our Instructional Design for New Designers workshop for more ways to improve your instructional design process.
And let me know about your last minute dashes and how buffering would have helped YOU!