It was one of those days — overslept just a little bit, and then spent the pre-work time finishing one task only to realize there was another yet to do. Prepare the baby’s bottles. Get the kids’ bedding into the car to take to daycare. Round up stuff for the drycleaner’s. I got to work and realized I hadn’t packed snacks or my lunch or the adapter for my breast pump.
As I started to lose patience, I reminded myself that better planning would have solved most, if not all, of these frustrations. I know this. When I do plan ahead, and everything runs smoothly, it feels great. So why don’t I do it?
Why do I skip planning, the thing that will make all of this so much easier?
I think it’s because I am results-oriented. I love when things come together and work. I love when I have a completed project or product to be proud of. I love doing work on a deadline, when the thrill of anticipation is highest and the deadline-gauntlet is just looming. Planning doesn’t usually come with adrenaline, or results to step back and be proud of. It can be downright drudgery at worst, and even at best you kinda think, “all of this is for tomorrow-me? But what about right now-me? She would love to just write or watch “Shark Tank” or take a Buzzfeed quiz.” Performing feels good; planning — in the moment — really doesn’t.
But here is my paradigm shift: Planning is performing.
The performance — the end results — just aren’t going to be as great as they can be without the planning. Strategic planning is required for making sure the work you’re doing means something and is going somewhere, and planning for the next day via all the small tasks that come with running a household (especially one with children in it) is essential as well. So really, planning is part of the performance. It might not be the part that people see or that you can point to in your own mind as a success, but it’s just as integral to your goals as the larger-scale efforts.
So, yeah, the banality of the small tasks (especially the ones that repeat themselves! Like, I got dressed yesterday — I really have to do it again today??) can wear thin, and it’s helpful to find “life hacks” or strategies that help lessen the drudge-y-ness (like preparing meals ahead of time so you don’t have as much daily cooking, or getting help with household chores), but if we think of planning as part of the performance, it helps to put things into perspective. Just because you aren’t actually delivering your important speech or throwing your perfect party (or whatever you aspire to do) when you’re washing baby bottles or doing the umpteenth load of laundry doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress toward your goals.
How do you make the planning part of your life a little easier? I’m all ears!
For comic relief, here is Calvin struggling with the same thing: