Planning vs. Doing…

Ok, one thing I don’t think people know about me, is how much I adore planning and organizing.  I absolutely love creating extensive school plans, schedules, and I’d even plan my personal recreation if I could.  I love organizing books, closets, craft and sewing supplies, writing goals, and oh man… I haven’t even started with personal goals and goals for my kids.  I seriously could make planning and organizing our lives a full time job.

Names and functions changed to protect my pride.

Names and functions changed to protect my pride.

On the other hand, I’m sure you can guess the problem with my “secret love.”  I’m not so good with following through on those grandiose plans and ideas.  That kind of negates the purpose of making them… or does it?  I mean, I do get a lot of personal satisfaction from it, but if I’m, as Inge Cannon says, “ever organizing and never coming to the reality of organization,” can I really feel the beauty of success.  I’ll be honest, more often than not, I’m feeling the sting of defeat rather than anything else.

Now obviously, some things must be planned.  Can you imagine going on vacation with no plan?  You’d forget half of what you need to bring, you’d possibly bring the wrong clothes if you didn’t bother to plan where you were going, and you might run out of money before you got home!  All the planning in the world, however, won’t get you out the door and to the beach or the mountains.  You have to actually execute your plan!

I’ve seen planners for everything from weddings (logical in my opinion, but some of the contents make my eyes roll), to babies (I never needed a 2″ thick book to plan my pregnancy and childbirth but okkkkkkk), to homeschooling (makes sense to me if you actually use it), to Christmas (most of which I’d never use but a modified version could save a bundle… if I used it!),  and I even saw a craft planner once.  You were supposed to cut a square of every piece of fabric and trim you owned, put it in the book, write down the pattern numbers you wanted to use, make a supply list of things you needed, the works.  They had several all at the same booth at a quilt show (I think it was a quilt show).  They offered ones for sewing (obviously the one I paid the most attention to), quilting (for obvious reasons… can you imagine a square of every 1/4 yard piece of fabric and the quilt you had ideas for?), knitting and crocheting, embroidery, general crafts, and it seems like there was another one, but it’s eluding me.  Seriously.  A whole 1″ spiral bound notebook with oodles of information to fill out about every single craft/hobby supply you own?  I could get an amazing amount of stuff finished in the time it’d take to catalog all of that stuff.  Oh, I’d love it, but in the end, I’d have more clutter and less of a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, there are also the basic and most widely used planners.  The daily reminders of appointments and projects that have deadlines.  There are also “Home Management” binders that also function much like a planner and I do see a need for them– if you use them.  Not if you write a lot in them and feel good about your “accomplishment” of planning, but actually accomplish enough as a result of that planning that it makes the time investment in them worth it.  Seriously, I can’t help but wonder how our foremothers ever managed to keep a home without running water, electricity, while making their own soap, washing on a washboard, ironing with hand irons, planting gardens, sewing all the family’s clothing… how did they do the myriad of tasks they did without a highly organized planner to keep them going?  Now I realize that they did do some planning.  However, I do know that they didn’t have the time or the money to waste on writing down that they needed to weed the garden the next day.  They knew it, they saw it when they walked by, and they did it as soon as the lunch dishes were done because they just did.  I wonder what they’d say to me writing  “read your Bible” in my daily planner.  I don’t want to know… I have a feeling I’d get a well-deserved earful, but I do wonder what they’d think of a quilt show with a booth dedicated to 6×9 spiral bound notebooks for cataloging and planning future sewing projects.  I wonder what they’d say to elaborate index card systems for doing basic housework or entire binders for Christmas or Birthday planning?

No, I don’t want to return to that life.  That’s not my point.  I do want to make the most of of the time I have here and if a little planning will reduce some stress so that I have more time or less stressed time to do and enjoy the things that I love or need to do, then I definitely want to invest that time for that purpose.  I just don’t want to be “Ever planning and never see the fullness of completed plans.”

Sauder Craft Oranizer Closet-  not mine.  Im glad I think.

Craft Oranizer Armoire- not mine. I'm glad I think.

Organization is a related subject that causes grief and heartache to many.  Where do the pony-tail holders go?  How can I find a button in this mess of a sewing basket?  Is there hope for my craft supplies?  Well, if you look to the left over there <—– you’ll see that for those with a lot of supplies, they can organize it all in a relatively small space.  Not necessarily for a small price though.

Everything would have a home and be in its place.  It SHOULD be easy to find what you need as long as you memorize where you put everything!  Or maybe after you’re done separating your green jeweled brads from your yellow ones, you can make a detailed schematic of every storage space and what is in it.  Then you can make an index so all you have to do to find your DMC 504 embroidery floss is check the chart, see that green is in bin JJ, go to that bin, find the green box, pull it out, and voila.  Talk about nifty.

Yes, there’s a smidge of sarcasm in there.  I don’t mean to be condemning of people with such a cabinet or twenty.  Actually, I think it’s wonderful.  After all, I just spent two weeks organizing my own little sewing nook which I’ve blogged about a bit extensively (and I’ve got a little blurb about my new chair to go up soon too!).  My point is, are we organizing in order to more effectively use what we have or as an excuse to avoid the work of actually using it.  What is the point of having jars of color coded buttons for your button art if you never make any art?  Why have trays of rubber stamps, ink, and 439 different clear acrylic boxes full of embellishments to make the world’s most amazing cards if you spend all your time shopping for things and arranging where you’ll store them instead of time actually making them!  (Yes, I am preaching to the choir.  Make Cards just went on my “auto-focus” list.  I’ll talk about that in a minute.)  I have at least 20 large totes of fabric.  What good are they if I don’t use them?  I don’t mind having twenty totes of fabric if I’m constantly pulling old stuff out, using it, and adding fresh stuff to replace it.  What I mind is that for the past three years, I’ve “organized those totes” at least five times and I can count on one or two hands the number of things I’ve made from their contents.  That’s just sick.  All the ribbon in the world won’t make beautiful hairbows by itself.  Yes, even if it is hung on perfect little dowels, color cordinated, and with all the embellishments carefully organized in little bins waiting to be used.  You have to actually pull out the scissors, cut off a length, and get to work or you have wasted supplies.

The same is true, of course, of kitchen gadgets, home school supplies, yard tools, and for the men or handy women among us, tools.  Tell me why you have a router if you don’t, well, rout!   Spending two weeks reorganizing your books is a great idea if you actually use them more frequently as a result.  However, if they still sit untouched on the shelf because you’ve moved onto a new organizing project (color coding your socks perchance?), you just wasted two weeks of your life.  You just wasted two weeks of your time with your children and husband, their time with you, and you can’t get it back.  “But once I have time, it’ll be so much easier…”   Yeah, if you ever get that nebulous thing called time, yeah… it might be easier.

I’ve just started playing with a new “Time management” system that I find simplistically satisfying.  It bothers me a bit.  I’m a little OCD about things and this isn’t a pretty system full of boxes to check off, lists of ‘to do” things organized by type, or a step-by-step plan for creating a notebook to think for me.  Instead, it’s a running to-d0 list.  That’s really all it is.  How you use the list is what is so amazing.  Mark Forster has created a system he calls the Autofocus system that is simple, direct, and gets the job done.  So far, I’m quite pleased.  I won’t go into the whole thing.  Go look at it if you’re interested but I did add a shopping list to the back of my notebook.  I tend to spend a lot of time, even with these simple little things, buying a pretty notebook and new pen, tabbing different sections and organizing it because, “I just don’t work that way but I’ll make it work with my alterations.”  I only made one tiny one… Flip open my notebook to the back and it says “shopping list”.  I wrote down things I need to get that I likely wouldn’t remember.  Things like

  • 2 pink zippers
  • interfacing
  • purple pens
  • mouthwash (we’ve never used it before so I definitely wouldn’t remember it!)
  • new mop

Most of that list has been purchased already.  I just need to get mouthwash and a new mop.  Next time I leave the house, I can glance at that list and add the things I need to my regular list.  Why not add everything to my regular list and just have one?  Well, my regular list is in my brain.  Hence, write down the things I won’t remember so I can get them next time I’m out.  That modification was worth it.  If I keep this up long enough to fill up this 10 cent notebook from last year’s school supply run, then I’ll let me buy myself a pretty one for next time.  Do you have any idea how many pretty notebooks I’ve purchased for “new organizational plans” that never went anywhere because I overcomplicated them?  Yeah.  Not doing that again.

Planning and organization are excellent tools with which women can maximize their potential.  They’re there to help us accomplish something other than organizing and planning.   So, I have a challenge for all of us.  This week, make a very simple plan if you need to plan things or need reminders about appointments or something… but if you’re like me and spend more time planning and organizing than you do living… keep the plans/organization super simple and actually DO something.  Gee.  What a concept.


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