Nov 30, 2012

Excesive Organizing or Planning Ahead?

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Question: How much planning is too much planning? In an era pretty much plagued by digital advances, often you don't have much of a "sense" of how ahead have you planned, or whether you've "underplanned" - if such exists. Say you don't have a devise specifically used for planning - like back in the day we had the palms or PDA's, whatever you call them or remember them as - then wherever you keep your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly plans are also dedicated to other things. Your Outlook, Google, phone... your plans are conveniently deluded among many other things. Meetings among contacts, numbers, e-mails, messages, documents... so when you get a glance at it, you see a jumble of things, not only your appointments and planning related stuff. 

Electronic calendars can give you some overview of how your appointments are going, and some even allow you to color code, and moving appointments from here to there is much easier, and yet, do you really go checking that out often? Do you have it handy all the time? And how much do you put in it?

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For those choosing old school tools, such as paper planners, the overview can be a much easier task, as these planners are usually mainly about planning, and simply flipping the pages gives you an idea of how your day, week or month looks like. These planners also contain a particular year, be it a calendar year or a school year, but in general they hardly go over 12 months at the time. With these, you normally plan up to the end of the year, and stop there, waiting for the next year to fill up the new appointments and to-do's.

If you have somewhat of a planning mania, to put it somehow, but not too exacerbated, then you may go on writting little notes for major dates at the end of the planner, clipping them or taping them to December 31st, or the next year calendar in the back of the planner. By the way, have you noticed how the first pages of the yearly planners are never looked at? First page maybe, when you open the planner, but those behind it, with all that "useful information" hardly ever get seen. The first time yes, when you think "oh, how cool! Now I'll know any time, how to convert this into that and will appear smart by knowing all these world statistics". And the year goes by and you never even look at them. Aynway, back on track, as the year reaches and end and the only pages you check as the ones at the back, then you start "standing on the edge", waiting for the next planner.

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Planners are popular and much loved Christmas gifts, so most people wait for them instead of buying them. If family and friends won't provide you with one, sure your bank, your insurance company or one of the store where you buy often will be handing you one as a courtesy. You may also wait for the last minute to get a better price or a prettier design. Be it as it may, the point is that most people - and this doesn't include the Filofax, Day-Runner or Franklin Covey fans, obviously - won't get the next planner until the year is pretty much gone.

So what happens with the people who get their next planner earlier? Say they get it already by  October or November? Believe it or not, you can get planners that early, specially if you have the type of planner that only requires refills. Even easier if you can print out your own refills. Well, once you have these at hand, before the next year even begins, you may find yourself filling the pages already with plans. Note all the cyclic appointments, and then passing those notes parked on December 31st in the dates they should be happening.

So far so good, right? It might be a little bit extreme for some, but if you think about the digital calendars where you note "White Collar" for every Tuesday at 9 pm and let it repeat into eternity, then you are already doing that and your are not freaking out about that. So when can it become too much? When you start adding notes like "write and send thank you cards", "prepare yearly budget plan" and so on? Or does it start being too much when you start setting your New Year Goals in your planner, so you can achieve them all?

Whatever planning you do, it should work for you. It has to be enough to keep you from forgetting important things, making your life easier, but it shouldn't be so much as to stiffle you, overwhelm you or rob you from any free time or a moment of spontaneity. However, where's the limit? How do we find it out? ^_^ That's a question that only we can answer for ourselves, but certainly all of us can use a good tip, right?

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