I used to think, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth planning to do.” Though the phrase is sticky, it’s not quite right.
I was thinking about this in reference to Julie’s Mindmapping Different Kinds of Time, wherein she wrote about her experience of combining mindmaps with ideas similar to the ones presented in Create, Connect, and Consume. Integrating the ideas from the 3C post was a game-changer for me, and Julie’s work really took those ideas to another level.
For me, the biggest benefit of switching to thinking about ToDo lists in more open ways is that it’s led to a much more holistic, intuitive understanding of what I “need” to be doing. Rather than thinking “I must read this particular chapter,” I can instead focus on reading something that’s a) worth reading, b) useful, and c) interesting. If “this particular chapter” doesn’t pass that test, then I don’t read it – or, even better, I can focus on the consumption opportunities that are more valuable at this time. At the end of the day, I spend more time focusing on the process instead of particular outcomes; in that sense, every fully harnessed opportunity is a stress-free win.
You’ll see something similar in Julie’s post when she says
I’ve been doing yoga and meditation for many years and reiki for the past several, both of which have helped me develop my intuition. I would like to spend more time than I do now exploring my intuition. So instead of thinking: I have to do yoga, I have to meditate, what about saying, I want to spend time with my intuition ”” Intuition Time ”” and that expanse of Time could include some yoga poses, some meditation, some daydreaming, some journaling, etc.
If she tried to make herself do yoga when she felt like doing reiki, then she’s set herself up to miss out on an opportunity to do something she wanted to do that served the same purpose as the activity she didn’t quite feel like doing. Why not be fully engaged in the activity you want to do instead of making yourself do something you don’t want to do for no other reason than it being on a list? A list, I should add, that you made when you were disconnected from this present moment.
Aside: Julie had a goal of “Develop Intuition Time.” It’s possible that in that chunk of time, she feels like doing some creative stuff. If she were to honor her desire to do some creative stuff, then she has, in fact, listened to her intuition. Rather than forcing her intuition into a time, would she be better off to let listening to her intuition be a natural, integrated part of her day? I think so.
There’s planning, and then there’s over-planning. Planning, done correctly, is an awareness-generating exercise. Overplanning is a stress-generating exercise and is generally counterproductive. Sometimes there really are deadlines that need to be met to keep things on track, and planning helps us keep sight of that. But there are plenty of meaningful things to do that would benefit from us learning to trust our intuitions about when when we should do them.
So it turns out that there are some things that’s just not worth planning to do, not because they’re not worth it, but because sticking to a plan sometimes makes us miss out on better opportunities.
Julie Stuart says
Planning, done correctly, is an awareness-generating exercise. I love that! Since I wrote that post, I’m finding that the more I play with my day by letting my intuition guide me toward what I want to do, I’m accomplishing a lot more AND feeling good about it.
Just this week on a call at Havi’s Kitchen table, I discovered a new category of time that I need for myself: A Daily Whimsy Generating Session.
For months, on my to do list, I’ve had PAINT. I’ve put so much pressure on myself to do it because it feeds my creativity but I’ve also put it in a non-essential, frivolous category. Like doing it doesn’t bring in money or get me clients, but I know that being in the creative flow will absolutely do both of those things and more.
Havi pointed out to me that my business runs on whimsy and creativity. Right now I don’t give myself enough of it. I save it all for my clients. Not good.
So now I’ve flipped that around and I’m giving myself permission to do any number of things during my Whimsy Generating Session. I could paint with my watercolors. I could practice cartooning. I could play with my sparkly glitter pens. I could lay on the floor and daydream. I’ve alleviated the pressure to PAINT and given myself permission to play and generate the whimsy fuel that feeds my business. And that feels much much better.
Thanks Charlie for enlightening me about the many different shapes and forms that planning can take, and how to make and mold them to my unique situation. It’s opened up a world of possibilities.
.-= Julie Stuart´s last blog ..Got a business plan that makes you smile? =-.
This is great, Charlie. I love the concept of having “types” of time set out – Intuition Time, etc – without defining the exact actions to be taken in that time. It seems like a lot gentler way to be with yourself.
So many people encounter resistance to doing things that – in theory – they really want to do, like yoga. I wonder if some of the resistance doesn’t come from the way they plan it – a top-down, hierarchical, demand-type plan – and the natural resistance we have to anyone (even ourselves) ordering us around.
This way circumvents that, I think.
.-= Charlotte´s last blog ..How NOT to SEO. (In which I receive a crappy pitch from a John.) =-.
Karen J says
THANK YOU, Charley (and Charlotte) ~
Four years later, and this post and comment have just produced a Huge A-Hah! / (hooray for Archives and LinkWithin!)
“some of the resistance … come[s] from the way [you] plan it – a top-down, hierarchical, demand-type plan – and the natural resistance we have to anyone (even ourselves) ordering us around.”
Scheduling ‘types of time’ rather than ‘exactly what to do’: this feels sooo much more like I’ll actually follow-through on my plan – the lack of which only adds to my frustration and falling-behind-ness!
“You’re resisting *even your own* authority” and “Change the questions” were handed to me a couple of years ago, and have helped me shift my approach, but this is that *extra little line* that makes all the pieces fall into place.
Bright Blessings to you!
Cath Duncan says
I love the idea of this, and yet the little reptile in my brain is going “but if you don’t commit to specific tasks, you won’t follow through on anything…”
These days it works for me to create time blocks where I work on a specific project, but I have an open list of stuff that needs doing for each project and I get to choose what exactly what I’d most like to do on that list at that particular time. This is working quite well and it seems pretty similar to what you’re saying.
A great question, which I always forget to ask when I have my blinkers on, is “What do I want doing this thing to get me?” That can help to open up the awareness that there are other ways to get what you want.
Great post, Charlie 🙂
.-= Cath Duncan´s last blog ..Agile Living Blog Carnival: November Roundup =-.
Mark Silver says
I love the “planning is an awareness-generating process.” Even as we sit here, my IdeaPaint is on it’s way to me, and I’m looking to having an entire wall to generate awareness and whimsy on.
.-= Mark Silver´s last blog ..When Does Perfectionism Matter? =-.
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says
I’m not a fan at all of complicated plans. For me I think most people can do very well with knowing their destination, having a good idea of the major landmarks along the way, then focusing on the first stretch of highway.
In other words, pick a goal, come up with five or six major steps to get there, pick the first step and do it, forgetting about the rest until you’re done that step.
The more complicated a plan the less flexible it is and the more likely people will spend more time planning than doing.
.-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..Break Out Your Creativity: Pop Music Positivity with Swing Out Sister =-.
Samantha Brightwell says
Ah, Charlie, you’ve hit on a topic here that causes me more consternation than it really should (*wince* – and I said the ‘should’ word too): Effective Planning.
Or more to the point: the Trouble with ToDoLists.
Trained by my initial career to be heavily organised and manage my Time with maximum effectiveness (high school teacher), I’m still inclined to feel that I ought to have a ToDo List. And if I don’t have my TDL in place, can I be sure that I’m being most effective (which means not forgetting to do really really flippin’ important things)?
Um, no. I still forget lots of really quite important stuff. Or leave it to the last minute, though I have another notion that those things that are only worth doing because you really have to do them (and don’t much want to do them) *should* always be left to the last minute, so that they don’t occupy more time than they… um… should.
The thing is, as I’ve opened up my creativity more and more, and become the only Boss of Me, I have a real abhorrence of the ToDoList. It could still just be a reaction to the old workplace (which still makes me shudder to remember it). Or it could just be a long overdue teenage rebellion against the tyranny of external authority.
Well, I think you really hit it on the head when you made the point that the ToDoList was made when you were disconnected from this present moment. I find my work flows more effectively when I’m allowing myself to follow the instincts of the present moment, and honouring my process of getting the work done my way, in my own creative mode.
Now, if I can just find a way to keep my intuition subtly informed of those things I still need to remember to do, then my business will be fine!
ToDo lists aren’t really the problem, and, in fact, they can be incredibly helpful. It’s just that many of us don’t really come up with effective TDLs. Instead of TDLs being about what needs to be done today or in a specified time period, they’re about all the stuff that’s in our head that “needs” to be done. I’ve written a few posts about this, but I think “Mastering the ToDo List” is probably the one that’s the most comprehensive.
If I may suggest something about your last statement: this is where technology comes in to save the day. Our minds are really bad at remembering time sensitive details because of how complex the prospect is. Computers, on the other hand, have a perfect memory. So the trick is to develop a system that lets technology handle the time-based data so that you can clear up that bandwidth to be used for creative/intuitive stuff. (More to come on this soonish.)
Karl Staib - Work Happy Now says
I never really thought of planning in this way. I know I plan for all these great things and I know I can’t get to all of them in the next two years. So I’m planning for 2 years +.
In reality I’m probably not going to do this thing I want to do now in 2 years. Why am I wasting my time? I need to be more aware of what I’m planning and if it’s worth my time. Great post! Thanks.
.-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog ..The Secrets to Workplace Leadership =-.