I didn’t plan on writing this*. Or much else for that matter.

I think I startled people when I said I don’t bother planning things in the time/plan/goal training session, and it also seemed that most couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t want to.

I didn’t get my point across in an elegant way, so I’m going to try to explain why I don’t plan stuff or have goals.

Quick background: the idea of the session was to look at your life goals, plans and aims, and to think about planning and time management in order to achieve them.

Me not having, nor wanting, any of the above startled people.

First off, I do plan things occasionally. If I’m travelling somewhere, I check the route the night before, or the connections I need for the trains.

If its required, I plan stuff maybe a month in advance, but 99% of the time its the night before and incredibly loose planning (e.g. “I need to set off before 10am to get there for ~1pm.”).

I also think that if you’re dealing with life and death situations, like surgeons or fighting a war, having a plan is important. If your patient can only be under anaesthetic for 3 hours and you spend 5 hours having a rummage around, you’re going to get struck off and imprisoned in short order.

I’m not, nor ever likely to be, in those life and death situations, so “planning” is for the more mundane stuff.

The reason why I don’t bother with plans? They’re a waste of time and energy you should be using doing the stuff you want to do.

You have a plan. You think you’ve covered all the eventualities, prepared the contingencies and anticipated the worst.

You start the plan, and almost immediately you’ve had to make an adjustment, an alteration, a deviation. Don’t panic though, you’re still “following the plan”.

By the end of “the plan”, your actual actions don’t look like “the plan” at all: with all the deviations and alterations you’ve effectively made it up as you go along.

How is that different to the person who didn’t start out with a plan?

You’ve effectively wasted a load of time and energy producing either;

  1. Something that gets junked part way through,
  2. Stuff that never gets used as the situation didn’t occur, or worse
  3. Panic and stress on “What If” problems that probably don’t exist or aren’t that bad.

Having a fuzzy target that allows you to go with the flow is better. Thinking a few steps ahead is fine, you’re acting on current information based on the task at hand, not some hypothetical you fretted over with no information**.

If you spend more time than “planned”, so what?

Similarly, not achieving the plan is considered bad; you had this plan to do X, but instead its “gone awry” to produce Y, or nothing.

Wouldn’t it be better to appreciate Y or, instead of spending time making a plan to X that ends up being unwise or unachievable, setting off toward X and quickly finding the path blocked? What stops you from going back down the path to X with some demolition charges to clear the way?

So, try not planning your weekend. Do whatever takes your fancy, go where you feel like going. Enjoy the unplanned moment for a while.

* Or for it to take this long

** Yes, I paraphrased Getting Real/Rework. They’re right :P