Sunday, 3 March 2013

To Plan or Not to Plan

To plan, or not to plan: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

[with apologies to Shakespeare!]

For the first time in a long while, I didn’t plan this week. I normally sit down at the weekend and plan the week ahead, and also sit down each morning and confirm my day. This week I did neither. It wasn’t a conscious decision not to, I just didn’t do it. And did I suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as a consequence?



I know there are two camps: one camp says to plan things or you’ll drift aimlessly and get sod-all done; the other camp says don’t plan, be free and enjoy yourself. To be honest, I find getting the right balance between those positions really difficult. Sometimes I plan myself almost to death and stop enjoying life as it feels it’s just a series of tick-boxes to get through, at which point I stop planning and end up doing sod-all. Or doing stuff that’s not important. Then I get annoyed that I’ve done sod-all and plan things to death again!

So how did this (unplanned) week pan out?

On my DPP pages, I have boxes to remind me to do yoga each day and to clear the ‘hot-spots’ of clutter. I also have check-boxes for fruit and vegetables, and water Intake.
In my weekly to-do list I had these items:
  • Blog post for Chimwemwe
  • Philofaxy article
  • Edit February Focus
  • Write next 2 scenes of book #4
  • 3 runs
  • Read a book
  • 2 blog posts on PPI
  • Read the screenplay books
  • Birthday (x)
  • Birthday (y)

This week:
  • I have done no yoga
  • the house looks like bombs have gone off in several places
  • I didn’t edit the February Focus newsletter (though mostly because I hadn’t been sent it!)
  • I haven’t been running
  • I haven’t read any books never mind a fiction and two screenplay books
  • I did no blog-posts for Paper, Pens and Ink
  • I missed two people’s birthdays
  • I have no idea if I’ve hit my fruit, vegetable and fluid intake targets.

I did manage to:
  • do a couple of quick blog posts for Chimwemwe
  • do the article for Philofaxy (which you can read here)
  • write the next four scenes of my novel

But, I knew I had to do all those other things – they were already on my weekly list after all – so what happened?

I had a busy Sunday last week and never managed to get around to planning the week ahead (where I normally allocate things from my weekly list to the daily sheets).
On Monday and Tuesday, I went down the rabbit-hole, writing, and didn’t even emerge for a run! And those of you who know me, know that that’s a serious down-the-rabbit-hole moment! It was bright and sunny all week and PERFECT running weather!
Wednesday to Friday I was back at work and ended up working late each day, then the evenings seemed to fill up with things that had appeared since I drew up the weekly list and which were much more important to do.

At the moment, I feel annoyed with myself that I didn’t do most of the things I was supposed to be doing, but I also know I can’t quite blame it on the fact I didn’t plan, as even if I had transferred the weekly list onto the days, I would still have had to do all the ‘extra’ things that popped up in the week.

I think I need to split my task-list into ‘must do’ and ‘want to do’ so that I don’t feel bad if the ‘want to do’ list has unticked things at the end of the week.

How do others deal with tasks that pop up out of nowhere? What do you do to keep your week on track? How do you
‘take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?’?


  1. Well, that pop up thing is my life in a nutshell! Without going into excruciating detail, both my work and home life are too volatile for me to ever plan to do things at a certain time. This doesn't mean no deadlines; those are constant. It just means a whole different way of planning that I have not entirely figured out yet. It is mostly a to do list with constant juggling to sort out the priority of the moment. And then there is something like the two-day snow storm February 21 & 22, when all the balls fall to the floor and I have to start from scratch again.

  2. I have to use a planner format where my weekly lists are visible on the same page as my schedule, so I can see when I have time to do things. I have a Must Do This Week list and a Non-Urgent list every week. That way I know what I absolutely must complete that week and what I can let slide if I need to.

    I have to be really honest here though: when I have a Must Do that I really don't want to do, I procrastinate by doing Non-Urgent tasks. At least I'm accomplishing things and crossing them off my list, right? ;)

  3. I have a schedule like that right now - very unpredictable and not much time to get anything done. The strategy that works best, although I hate it, is to only write on my to-do list the things that MUST be done. Then I start working on those items as soon as I get up. Once they're done, I can tackle other things I write on a separate section of my page. If I can't get to those other things, at least I can go to sleep at night knowing I got the priorities done.

    But like I said - I don't like doing it this way. I like the feeling of knowing I got my priorities done but I want to do some of the other things on my list, too.

  4. I've decided to tackle whatever is left on my list on Fridays, instead of copying to the next week. It's working okay. I'm getting more done than I used to. But note that it is Friday here, and I am commenting on your blog instead of doing the tasks. :/