For a while now, I have been discussing how planning is beneficial to our everyday lives: planning allows us to keep track and become more productive. Planning can also be a trap when it begins to take over your life…
This is the trap I found myself in a few months ago. Everything became a situation where if it was on a to do list, it had to be done, no matter what time of day it was, if I was feeling bright and breezy or unwell. If I had planned it, it was being done. It also got to the stage where I planned everything in so much work wise, I never allowed myself to enjoy simply being. I didn’t have the flexibility in my schedule to take a day off if I needed to, or enjoy a couple of hours just playing a game with my family. This lead me to trap of over planning.
When your life becomes a mechanical structure rather than a life, you know it is a good time to just take a step back and re-evaluate your planning system. As truly amazing as it is to have pretty stickers on a planner and be able to tick off a to do list, over planning can lead to tiring yourself out, or even worse, can eventually cause you to lose the fun in planning altogether.
In more serious cases, over planning can also cause issues such as OCD (Obsessive Compusive Disorder). Despite never being diagnosed with OCD, nor do I need to be, it is something that many have thought I have had. Things have to be in alphabetical order, systems need to be in a specific way, and as a kid, I used to be fascinated by lining toy cars up. Planning became an extension of this, and once I noticed, I knew it was time to take a stand.
So how can you avoid over planning?
The first step is to not plan every single hour of the day! And even if you feel like you need to put something, just to fill up a blank space, simply label it as Family Time or Me Time to give yourself the flexibility to do whatever you want. Friday night’s don’t have to be movie nights if there isn’t a good film on. Allow yourself to just be.
Secondly, limit how many tasks you want to tackle in a set period of time. There is no point have a to do list of 50 things long and just working through them without priority, thought and most of all, breaks. Take 5 things. Even if that seems like too much, then just take 3. Take just a couple of to dos, and take your time to complete them. You will not tire yourself out as quick, and you should feel much more proud of the end result.
Try something new. Have a go at another hobby, or something else that can take your time off planning. If there is nothing else you want to have a go at, then why not try planning in a different way – you may be able to spot a pattern where you overplan when you write things out in a different format.
Lastly, I want to offer a little advice rather than a tip or trick. Life is full of curveballs, and no matter how much we try to prepare for it, how much we plan, we will never be able to master the art of twists and turns in the road. We struggle because we resist. Therefore, once we become open to the idea of adaptation and flexiblity, we are more like to flow with the curves rather than resist the change.
Have you ever caught yourself over planning? Let me know!
Until next time…