Planning. Simply the sound of this word is enough to give me a rage fit and a subsequent migraine.
Whether you want to start a business, do well at college or just become good at any kind of activity, one of the most frequent pieces of advice you will get is to plan everything. Even when it comes to relationships, planning is still considered to be essential.
At first, I became really angry and frustrated when I read all those articles because I am terrible at planning– really. The only thing I have managed to plan so far is my shopping list.
I have a bright memory from childhood. It’s when I decided it was time to get all fancy and organized and created a schedule of the entire following day. I was so serious that I even used an A3 sheet of paper for my schedule and I’m not kidding you.
And now, you can try to guess how much I lasted on my schedule.
I managed to do only one thing from the list and that’s to wake up. The rest of my day went haywire, as usual.
After years of struggling with my hectic and disorganized self, I started to question the premise and had anti-planning thoughts.
Can planning really do miracles to your life? I highly doubt that. I believe that, like everything on Earth, it has its downsides. Here are some of them.
Plans make you frustrated
I’m a perfectionist- yeah, that’s weird for someone who hates plans- and it backfires so much when it comes to crossing out items from my to-do or even shopping lists. If I can’t manage to find something or if I postpone a tiny errand to the next day, I will feel dissatisfied with myself. No matter how many tasks I do that same day, that one uncrossed thing will bug me.
What to do instead?
If you’re like me and “1 pound of sour cream” in your shopping list can ruin your day if uncrossed, try creating lists of things you actually DO as you go on with your day. This will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence. At the end of the day, you’ll be looking at a list of things you actually managed to do and not those you didn’t manage.
Plans don’t make THAT big of a difference
A lot of people expect to become time-management gurus the moment they start creating plans. But, guess what?
That doesn’t happen in a snap. It has to be learned much like any other action and habit out there. More than that, though planning helps you become more organized, the main point is that you need to do things. Planning alone won’t get you anywhere, except the fact that you’ll become incredibly good at creating lists.
What to do instead?
Try the immediate action strategy. Planning is preparation, and preparation is usually good. But, let’s be honest. Most of the time, we start making plans to procrastinate and to feel like we are actually doing something good about our lives.
So, instead of indulging into writing another list, choose a tiny action. Let’s say, clean a small section of your working table or finally move all the clothes from the chair to your drawers.
Plans can increase your anxiety
Life goes by its own rules with little regard for our plans. People forget to return a call or even show up, cars break and bad weather strikes unexpectedly. Life is haywire and that’s probably the reason we like plans so much. They help us make a little sense of the mess that’s constantly going on.
When something unexpected and unavoidable intervenes with your perfectly designed plan, it can make you feel like you are out of control and this adds more stress. You have a lot of things to deal with and now you have another issue to solve. In essence, it means less time for more things to accomplish.
What to do instead?
Choose a couple of pivotal actions and make them vital for you. See, there’s a lot going on with our lives, but we don’t forget the basic things anyway. We eat, sleep and drink.
Choose a couple of simple actions and make them an absolute must of your day. Soon, you will be used to them that you won’t need a plan to remind you anymore. You won’t beat yourself up for not sticking strictly to your schedule.
I’m not saying you should totally forget about lists and to-dos completely. They can be useful when you are packing for a trip or having a really hectic time. However, I don’t believe you need a to-do list for every day of your life. To me, they are more of a play-pretend game than of real usefulness.
What do you think about planning and to-do lists? Are they overrated or do they really make a big difference?
Share your insights below and maybe you can help me and other people who are all about anti-planning change our minds.