Monday, April 23, 2012

On Planning

I don't know what the deal is lately...but I don't have time to finish anything without either depriving myself of sleep or something that truly needs to get done.  I realize that I have the same 24 hours in a day that I have always had...but the ones that I have free seem to keep getting sucked up into a vortex of unreality that causes me to periodically look at the clock and go...

Say what?  Nine o'clock?  I just got home!

Obviously not.

I don't know if is the years of overdrive living or the fact that at nearly 5-0...I am finally not quite as quick on the uptake as I used to be. I mean...I certainly save time by not doing stuff that is about as productive as beating my head against the wall after trying that path for many moons.  I have learned when it is a "no"...a "possibly" and a "I'm on it" within 30 seconds of having an option presented to me...and I rarely deviate from that initial much as I regret my inability to change horses in midstream. I used to just "make it happen" without regard for possible burnout or whether "it" was actually worth it or not.

Perhaps I learned that I just like following a game plan. 

I'm a planner, you see. I think of something...and one of three things is apt to happen: I'm going to make it happen, I'm going to determine that it is not happening...or I'm going to schedule it for some point in time.

I honestly do this.  And the last option is the one I choose most frequently.

I mentally move something I want to do to a different point in time that gives me time to prepare to actually get it done rather than freak completely out because I can't do it the second that I conceive that I want to do it.  Because I have a natural tendency to be all wound up and Type A-ish...I had to choose "intentional procrastination" or "losing my mind."  I went with Plan A.  I consider this to be growth.

Some people call it denial.  But they would be wrong.  Because I actually do get to the projects pretty much in the time frame that I set out to get to them. And sometimes?  My desire to do something changes...or the opportunity passes and it is okay...or I get more information that makes something even more awesome.  I do love it when that happens.

And people wonder how I have time to do all that I do because I work full time?  Well, that is because I usually am planning big things at least nine months out, things I'd like to accomplish three months out, and cool stuff I'd like to do for people a month to six weeks ahead. 

So, yes, I booked the September trip I'll be taking to France in January...and asked someone to do something special for Jill's graduation last Fall.  I figure that if God makes us wait nine months for little people to get from miniscule to full-term babies...that there is probably something to that time frame with regard to big things that require preparation. 

Fortuately, we are not elephants.  They are pregnant for two years...bless their hearts.  (No wonder elephants never forget.  Would you?)

The three month time frame is there to give you time to actually focus.  How much better things are when you actually have time to think them through!  I mean...if you wait until the last conceivable are going to throw something together that could have been far better than what you can whip up overnight most of the time.  Of course, sometimes life will force this last minute Katie-bar-the-door method of planning on you...and if it is an every once in a while's totally doable.  It is when last minute planning and execution  is a way of life that it begins to resemble burning a candle at both ends.  Maybe if just feels that way...exhausting...draining...and messy.

A month to six weeks out is about the minimal amount of planning that you need for a small gathering, addressing wedding invitations,or planning to rearrange or clean out something in your house.  The random "Gee, I think I'll clean out the hall closet today..." is nice to be able to do...but chances are...if you don't plan isn't going to happen.

At least at my house.

By planning most of these the things that are time consuming...I normally have snippets of time to do things like send a note to someone, write on this blog, or clean something that needs to be dealt with every day.  As long as I have time to do something that I want to do every day...I stay pretty happy.

Relatively speaking, of course.

I do have some "loves" that are very time consuming including my dogs, reading, and scrapbooking...when I am actually able to focus enough to scrapbook.  I don't waste a lot of time doing other things like watching TV (I watch two scheduled hours a week and I DVR them so I can get to them whenever)...and when I'm watching I normally am doing something else like folding clothes or sorting something (like the piles of stuff that float into this house via the mail every afternoon).  But sometimes...nah.  I just sit there and veg.  Because I can.

This system has worked for me for a long time.  People sometimes think it is odd when I say that I've planned to look into something down the road...but it is just normal to me now.  And normal is good, right?

Except that today I read in a devotional guide that was compiled from the writings of Charles Spurgeon...that excessive planning is like bowing at the altar of control...or something to that effect.  Am I really a control freak?  In a bad way?  After all, I've worked my system for a long time...because it works for me.

But then again...I thought I'd better run through some questions that I have to ask myself from time to time...such as...

Do I have time to volunteer my time doing things that come up or am I so tightly scheduled that this is impossible?

Do I let people down because I refuse to change my schedule?

Is my life in disarray simply because something or someone has thrown a monkey wrench into my plans?

Is my plan more important than people?

Am I being selfish with my time?

Am I rude or unkind to people who mess with my plans?

Do I secretly resent people who seem to be able to do a lot more than I I am constantly striving to do more and more and be more and more efficient doing it?

Or not.

Right now...I think not.  For the most part, anyway.  I have been really selfish with my time lately...but that is because I usually consider May and December the busiest months of the year...and I'm already in late May in planning my weekends...which comprise the majority of my free time.

But why could I rattle those off so quickly?  Because I've had to overcome every one of those barriers.

I don't know how you use your 24 hours every day.  Perhaps you spend the majority of it in service to others...or maybe you use it for self-improvement, study, or to get through a particularly busy season in life. 

Just know that I'm certainly not judging, either. I just hope that you are finding what works for you...and that there is a lot of joy in your life.

Because the projects will keep on coming. The options will be out there.  Do all you can of the important stuff and let the rest of it go.

That may mean that you have to divest yourself of things that are wonderful...but not for this season of your life. 

Or you may need to be more assertive about refusing to do things that people should be doing for themselves. (Guilty!  It is difficult to recognize when your kids are grown.) may need to divest a lot of the things that keep you tied up caring for them...possessions...not people.  Seriously...if you don't have time to dust you need it?  Answer: no.

One final thing...plan some time to just pray and breathe, sing and move, love and learn.  Every day.  After all...sometimes planning to be intentional is the only way that we will be. 

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