Planning Does Not Take Away Your Creativity and Spontaneity!

A lot of people I know that are living completely scattered lives refuse to write things down and plan things out.

The fear is that it takes away from their creativity and spontaneity and that if something changes, then they’ve got to work to change it (read: make a mess in their appointment book, etc.).

The problem is that without planning, their life is a mess anyway.  They think that by doing things as they come across them, they are prioritizing, but really, are they doing the things that need doing the most or just the most convenient?

It Happens

I fall into this habit sometimes.  Usually at the worst of times, when emails are landing in my inbox like lead weights – this needs to be done, so does this, this and this.  Instead of writing down what needs to be done and when (prioritizing), I sometimes fall into the trap of doing one thing and then the next as it comes to me.

In the frenzy of our busy lives, the act of writing things down and taking a moment to plan things out can see wasteful and inefficient.  But really, it’s the best thing you can do to save time and stay on track.

Why It Works

Once you’ve written down the things that need to be done, it’s easier to assess your work and time.  It’s there in black-and-white, one item listed after another.  Orderly and manageable.  Your brain processes it as it’s written, instead of trying to untangle the jumbled mess that’s currently tying up all of your thoughts.

I know that things can change but it’s better to write it down and have to change it (I use correction tape, which leaves almost no trace of an error, if that helps.  If you’re using a computer calendar, then making a change is easy and free of crossed-out lines and squiggles) than to try and remember everything as it unfolds.   Less mistakes will be made and the chances of you double-booking yourself become incredibly reduced.

YOU Time

The best thing about planning things out is that you can see where your time is spent and allow for the things that are most important to you.  If you see on your calendar that you’re booked Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night, you can immediately plan for Monday and Wednesday off or do something for yourself.  Even planning to do nothing is important because it’s time for you and only you.

We often leave ourselves out of our planning and scheduling, but we’re the most important component in our lives.  And because life has become so out of control and busy, the only way to get what you want, what you need – like time to yourself or to do something you really enjoy – is to schedule it and plan for it.

But that’s not to say that you still can’t be creative and spontaneous.  In fact, now that you are much more clear-headed, you have the heart and the energy to do things in the moment, to think outside the box.

But you can’t do it in your current state. There’s just way too much going on.

It’s better to write something in messily and get it done than try to remember everything and miss deadlines and opportunities, don’t you think?

So get yourself a planner that works for you and your lifestyle and use the heck out of it!  You will see your creativity and spontaneity flourish.

And along the way, you’ll get everything done.

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…