To Plan or Not to Plan

To Plan or Not To Plan

  By Laura Mills

  This Labor Day weekend I tested the effects of spontaneity on stress. I usually plan my days in great detail, sometimes an entire week in advance, believing for some unproven reason that planning keeps me organized. My extra-calm husband, Jamie, has long encouraged me to schedule less and flow more; when we discussed this particular weekend’s agenda, he suggested we “just see” what happened.
  I awoke Saturday morning already jittery. My first thought was, “I have to do laundry, and I can’t forget to buy cat litter.” But Jamie suggested the 7:45 yoga class first thing, so we left behind laundry piles and litter boxes and set out. We followed yoga with an on-a-whim breakfast stop, then kayaked on a local lake. Sometime during the day I did throw in laundry and stop at the pet store, but by dinnertime (for which we decided to order pizza and save the intended grilling for Sunday) I hardly remembered a Saturday that I had enjoyed so much. And by the end of the weekend—the rest of which we passed the same way—we had finished the really necessary chores anyway, virtually stress-free.    
  Planning surely has its place, and I’m far from ready to abandon planning and start flowing freely every day. But this weekend I reminded myself that shuffling my to-do list need not be an obstacle. On the contrary, occasional spontaneity, moments when I agree to “just see” what happens, might wind up the best moments of any given day, the moments really worth remembering.