To anticipate means to predict, expect, or think about what is likely to happen.  Whenever you anticipate that something might happen, you can immediately take action  instead of saying after the fact, “I was afraid that might happen.” The action you take will depend on what you anticipate will happen. The word “anticipate” is sometimes used to mean “look forward to,” but that would hardly be appropriate if you anticipated problems, so that meaning is ignored for the purposes of this article.

When you anticipate the future, your gut feelings are frequently the correct ones, and I explain this when I discuss the brain’s involvement in anticipating the future in my e-book, The Proactive Manager, from which this article was extracted. The e-book is published by

A good time manager saves time and effort in the future by acting in the present. You could call this preparation as well, but because it frequently involves mentally visiting a future event that you have never experienced before, I prefer to call it anticipation. It becomes a decision-making tool.

Some actions are obvious. Because we expect that machines will break down, supplies will run out, and that employees will need guidance, we have preventive maintenance, inventory control, and policies and procedures.  You must apply that same thought process to your total job and life.

If you are starting up a business in today’s environment for example, and selecting a product or service to market, you might anticipate an increase in telecommuting and working from home offices.  And that the need for online courses, webinars, eBooks, and so on will increase.  You might also anticipate a greater interest in safety and health and an awareness of mental health, influenza, stress, and the value of friendships, outdoor activities, and social media, during and following a pandemic.

If you write books and articles, you might anticipate that the reader will want to know the source and reliability of your information and include references and a bibliography and stress your knowledge of the subject in your Bio.

If you sponsor seminars, you might anticipate the need for online training and anticipate that when you sponsor webinars and conference calls that registrants will need to know the time in their time zone and include a link to a world time zone converter.

If you are a publisher, you might anticipate that your authors will want to know their royalties in their own country’s currency and include a link to a currency converter.

If you are a grocery store or retail store owner or restauranteur, you might anticipate a greater need and demand for pick-up and delivery services.  And so on. In most of these cases, you anticipate by thinking about what you would expect or want if you were the person involved.

Anticipating your customers needs and wants are always important regardless of what business you are in.  A study by the Research Institute of America found that 90% of the customers who are dissatisfied with the service they receive will not come back again.  And only 4% of unhappy customers even bother to complain.  But unhappy customers tell their stories to an average of nine other people. And according to e-Marketer, it costs five to ten times as much to find a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.

If you are an employee, you might anticipate what your boss will need.  You know that a boss wants solutions to problems, not more problems.  So, you might prepare some possible solutions, before telling him or her about the problem. Your boss also needs work completed on time or early, not late. How to do this will be covered in the section on “Getting ahead on your work” in the book mentioned earlier.

If you are a professional such as a doctor, lawyer, or therapist, you might anticipate that patients and clients will not appreciate a long wait.  And since researchers find that customers perceive waiting time to be less if there are magazines or even signs to read or other things to keep them occupied, you could act accordingly.  Waiting time seems shorter if people have someone to talk to.  Paco Underhill, in his book, “Why we buy”, tells us that any waiting time without contact over 1½ minutes creates time distortion in the minds of the customers.

Time waiting after the initial contact seems to go faster than the time spent waiting before the interaction.  So, acknowledging that the customer is waiting tends to relieve time anxiety.  You might acknowledge the customers when they first arrive and at least every 5 or 10 minutes thereafter.

You might also anticipate in your personal life that you will have threats to your health as you grow older.  For example, Alzheimer’s is thought to start 20 or more years before it exhibits any symptoms.  And researchers tell us that when you reach 85 you have a 50% chance of getting Alzheimer’s.  The time to act is now, regardless of your age, while you are still able to exercise, modify your diet, get adequate sleep, and reduce stress, and a dozen or more other actions you can take to reduce the chances of getting the disease.  When you form healthy habits when you are young, it takes little time and effort to continue the habits into your later years. There is power in anticipation.

Note: This article is excerpted from the e-Book, The Proactive Manager, published in 2021 by

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