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Here's why you need to plan less

When a mindful mentor said to me 6 years ago "Lucy, if you planned less, you'd get more done AND feel a lot calmer", I totally ignored them.

I thought "they don't know what they're on about" and "it's alright for them, living mindfully all the time, they don't have any time pressures".


6 months later, when I was driving home from work planning my evening to the minute, I thought "hell, why don't I try not planning this evening".

See normally, my evening would look something like this

7.35 get home

7.36 put the oven on

7.37 go upstairs, get changed

7.39 put washing on while waiting for oven to warm up

7.42 start cooking dinner

... and so it would continue.

All so I could be done by 9pm, so I could watch 2 hours of TV to chill out before bed before getting up at 6am and starting all over again.

I believed I HAD to do that.

I believed it was the most efficient way to get everything done. And I believed that any other way would result in less time to "chill out" and watch TV and so I'd either go to bed later, be even more tired and make tomorrow even harder, OR I'd go to bed still stressed, and make tomorrow even harder that way.

And I'll be honest, I was proud of my efficiency. Proud of how I made every single minute count.

But mindful mentors had told me I would have even more time if I "went with the flow".

I thought that was absolute bull sh$t - I hadn't got to where I had in life by "going with the flow".

None-the-less, something made me try it that evening.

I focused on the moment in front of me. I walked through the door, and I went upstairs and got changed. And then I put the washing on, and the dinner on. And spontaneously cleaned the kitchen. And tidied my clothes away.

And then sat down to watch TV just before 9pm, feeling weirdly calm, and so watched an hour of TV rather than my normal two, and went to bed earlier than normal.

My mind was blown. I didn't understand what had happened. I'd got more done, in less time, AND felt calmer. But I tried it again the next day and the same thing happened.

Gradually, I've added this into all aspects of my life.

I used to plan every minute of my weekend, every day of my holidays, rushing from fun thing to fun thing, eager to make the most of my time off. I'd be knackered at the end, and would often get stressed between it all, but I'd think it was time well spent.

Now I plan one, maybe two things, and let the rest unfold. I finish the weekends and holidays happy, content, refreshed.

At work, I plan in hour blocks, rather than 5 minute segments. Planning is still important and still necessary sometimes, but I have more flexibility now - and I get more done and feel calm at the end of the day, rather than frazzled like I used to.

If you've spent your whole life being a planner, this is a difficult concept to get your head around and it's something that takes practice. When I'm stressed, I still sometimes slip into my old ways and starting plan things in detail - but now when I catch myself doing that, I recognise it and consciously do it differently.

So, if you want more time and more calm in your life, why don't you try something different? Why don't you try NOT planning?

Try it at a time when the stakes are low so it doesn't matter what happens and you're not worried about the clock. And just see. Does it help you get more done? Do you feel more calm after?

And then let me know! I'd love to hear how you get on.

Because honestly, this has changed my life. And I'd love to see it change yours too.


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