For my Tranquility by Tuesday project in 2021 (which was the basis for the book of the same name in 2022), I had 150 people try out nine of my favorite time management rules over nine weeks.
Rule #2 is to “Plan on Fridays.” I made the case for a weekly planning time and stressed how that could help calm the chaos and let people make time for what matters. Several folks agreed with me that it might be nice, but had objections — “I get frustrated when I plan well but then the plan gets torpedoed,” one person wrote. “It makes me not want to waste the time.”
I agree that it is frustrating to plan well and then have the plan not happen. Also, trust me, I don’t have some magical power that keeps my particular plans from getting torpedoed just like everyone else’s. But even if plans often do have to change, I think the exercise of planning is still not a waste of time.
I wrote last Wednesday about how I was planning my upcoming weekend. One thing I was looking forward to: A neighborhood BBQ where I was hoping to get to know the folks on my new street that I haven’t had a chance to talk much with yet. Alas, the host looked at the weather forecast, saw the giant thunderstorm brewing for Saturday evening, and called things off (wisely, I might add— we have several big branches down in our yard…and, also in the category of things not going as planned, the middle school sustained enough damage that it is closed today because they couldn’t get the fire alarms operational….).
As for my during-the-day plan on Saturday, I had noted that during the window while the 8-year-old was at climbing practice, I’d only have my 11-year-old, so she and I could go out to lunch. Well, Saturday morning, I came back from running and noted that my 8-year-old was face down asleep in a living room chair. This was a little strange. Sure enough, he wasn’t feeling so hot, and after I got him to his room, he wound up sleeping for much of the afternoon. This affected the plans because my husband wasn’t home from Germany yet — and I couldn’t leave my sick 8-year-old home alone.
I also thought we’d do a family hike or bike ride on Sunday late afternoon, but then the 11-year-old asked if she could walk over to a friend’s in the afternoon, and the 13-year-old had a Boy Scout hike, which I sort of planned around, but then he elected not to go (since he’d been gone Wednesday- Saturday at a state technology competition…which he placed high enough in to go to national’s, which is awesome, except it coincides with an extended family vacation…ah, more logistics…). I didn’t make it back from a birthday party on Sunday until close to 3, so we had a little playground time but no family hike.
Also, I was incredibly tired Sunday morning and did not get up to run early. (I think I heard my husband come in from picking up our 15-year-old at 11:30 p.m. from a competition he’d been to…the plan for that had been closer to 10 p.m.).* Also, I’ve got something of a toothache — lovely, since my usual dentist just left her practice and hasn’t started anywhere new yet. Sigh.
So, looking at this, one might wonder if anything this weekend went as planned.
The answer is…yes! I did a long run Saturday morning, just as I’d planned. My husband went to the gym with the 15-year-old on Sunday, as planned. I went to church with the 3-year-old, as planned, and afterwards we went to a really fun birthday party (among other things, I got to hold a boa constrictor. Like, a pretty big one.) So, even if a lot of stuff didn’t go as planned, several things still did.
Also, to quote the Dwight Eisenhower phrase, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Because I had identified going out to lunch with my daughter as something we wanted to do, we were able to pivot. We ascertained what time my husband’s delayed flight landed, were in touch with him as he got in the car, and were waiting in the yard the second he got back so we could go out to a very late lunch or whatever you want to call our mid-day meal. My goal with our family hike on Sunday had been to spend some family time together, and we did manage a family dinner with all seven of us, so that’s something given how much running around there has been lately.
And hey, even when stuff doesn’t happen, if you have other fun things as a back-up, it can be OK. It was too bad about the BBQ, but I did finish the 1000-piece Mickey and Minnie puzzle my 15-year-old got me on his Disney trip in March. Sounds like a pretty good rainy night activity to me.
*I had planned ahead and warned my husband that he should sleep on the plane because of this possibility.