I love planning. There is just something about making lists, scheduling, and strategizing that I find fun. I even love coming up with backup plans and when something happens to interrupt plans because then you get to come up with a new plan! I just genuinely enjoy the process of making a plan.
I love planning and I struggle with doing.
One semester back in college it finals were just starting. I was not prepared. I felt like I was behind and was never going to get things done on time. So, I brilliantly decided to make a study schedule. It was great. I factored in which finals and final projects were due first and which ones were more difficult. I started in pencil and switched to using blue and black pens.
Then I had made a mistake, but I was now in pen. So of course I had to start over. And if I was starting over I should really make it pretty, not just blue pen for color. So, I dug out my highlighters and created a color coded by subject study schedule. It was glorious!
My roommate got home and wanted to make dinner together. By the time we were done and I was supposed to study it was already two hours past when I was scheduled to study a subject and I was already supposed to be on my second subject. So of course, instead of starting subject one or even skipping to subject two I immediately went to work on revising my study schedule.
I spent probably three or more hours that night planning instead of doing.
This is merely one example of my use of planning as a procrastination and avoidance tactic.
I’m prone to procrastination. And, as I mentioned earlier, I’m accomplishment motivated. So, by procrastinating most of the time I end up making myself unhappy.
I don’t mean to say that I don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t relax or take beaks or have down time. Personally, I just feel better resting after doing something. I can be more restful and carefree after I feel that I have earned my relaxation.
Recently I have been working on being actively aware of my joy and what causes it and what detracts from it. As I have become more vividly aware that doing something leaves me feeling better than doing nothing I have been putting more of an emphasis on doing over planning.
Now this is not the advice I would recommend for everyone. I fall on an extreme end of the planning vs. doing spectrum and recognize that I feel better towards the middle. Other people who are on the opposite extreme may want to evaluate the joy they feel from doing without planning vs doing with some planning and make adjustments accordingly.
I need to do more. The emphasis is on the do, not necessarily on the more part of that statement. It’s not about feeding into the self-aggrandizing hype and glamour of being overly busy and over scheduled. It’s about taking more deliberate action. Watching TV technically is doing something but that’s not the type of doing I’m talking about.
This weekend going through things felt good. I enjoyed putting together shelves, making donation trips, and getting a bunch of cardboard ready for recycling day.
One piece of advice from a minimalism blog I read last week said something about not letting any clothing touch the floor. Everything either goes into the hamper for washing or back into the closet for another day. Guess what, I’ve done that successfully for the last 5 days and it feels good. I did laundry two weeks in a row (we regularly wait 2-3 weeks in between marathon laundry days)! My side of the room was open and clear. It was easier to do a load of laundry because it was all in the basket already. I knew where things were because I had put them away. It felt, and continues to feel, really good to go to sleep next to and wake up next to a clean and open space.
This joy came from doing. Doing something that I really hadn’t even been planning to do until that moment when I was getting into my pajamas and decided to try it. It was easy and I also picked up the clothing that had already started to gather on the floor since the last laundry day. It really didn’t take that long and wasn’t that hard.
I became so paralyzed in preparing that I stopped doing. In real time days I haven’t written a post for three days. When I realized what had happened I decided that I wanted to write because on earlier days when I wrote I felt better.
Guess what, once again, I feel better for doing. I’m not going to stop planning. I do it unconsciously a lot of the time. However, I am going to continue to put an emphasis on action and doing and watching out for when I get caught in the trap of planning as procrastination.
After all, a plan isn’t any good if it isn’t executed. I’ll let you know how it goes.