I have a love-hate relationship with planning.
It seems like the key to life is time management. At least, it is according to the time management books. Every so often, I read one of these books and follow it to the letter. I sit down at my desk with a new planner and—per the book’s instructions—write out my five year plan, my one year plan, my quarterly, monthly, and weekly plan.
Then I break that weekly plan up into a detailed daily to-do lists for the next seven days. Of course I schedule time on the seventh day to plot out the next seven days.
After this, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much, but of course I’ve actually accomplished nothing.
But for the next week, I follow my plan to the letter, checking exercise and writing and chores off my to-do list and logging every push-up, word written, and errand in my diary of accomplishments.
Diary of accomplishments—that’s not what I call it, but that’s what it really is. A way for me to go back and review all the wonderful things I’ve done. Proof that I’m not wasting my time.
And you know what all this planning, checking off, and reviewing does?
Makes me miserable.
By putting items onto a list, it somehow makes them seem like chores, things that should be avoided. I’ll be on a streak where I’m exercising every day, for example. It’s effortless, part of my routine.
And then I’ll make a rigid plan outlining that I will do what I’m already doing, and I’ll rebel and go to the movies instead.
This rebellion is my most predictable response to over planning, but I do it every time.
I suspect I’m not alone.
Plans are important, of course. We don’t want to go through our days, or our lives, without any direction. But too much planning puts us in shackles.
As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”
I think that’s another secret of adulthood that I’m still learning—the right level of planning to motivate myself without triggering my own rebellion.
Fortunately, I have no plans today.
Which likely means I’ll get a ton of things done.