“Spontaneity is one of the joys of existence, especially if you prepare for it in advance.”
Alan Dean Foster
Some mornings I just can’t do it. I can’t seem to get anything written. I hand wrote three pages this morning and then did over three pages on the computer, none of which I can put in a blog. Well, I could, but I won’t because it’s just a bunch of musings and ramblings that won’t help anyone. I don’t think they helped me – except in one way – I did more writing. I wrote for almost an hour even though it wasn’t anything I could publish.
Professional writers say that three to six hours of writing is required per day. I’m not there yet. Here’s the good thing – the writing I did today, even though it’s not anything I will publish, counts as writing time. Purpose doesn’t always require a satisfactory result – or any result at all. Sometimes it just requires time. Sometimes the work is just the work. Sometimes it all has to discarded and restarted. That’s okay. The important thing is time. I’ve put my time in and I feel better about my work and myself. I have to put time in. That’s the plan.
Time is a crucial element for much of life and so is planning. Planning is the foundation for using time well. We need time for relationships, time for personal, spiritual, or intellectual growth, time for anything we want to see prosper and grow. Everything requires time. Many things require money, but everything requires time. This is why wasting time is such a bad thing. I rarely use the word “bad;” it’s a very judgmental word. But what else can I call the wasting of time? If I waste money, that’s a shame, but I can usually get more money. I can’t get back time, not even one second. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life and I won’t waste more with regret. What I will do, what I’ve been doing, is make a plan.
That’s why I feel good right now. I’m using my time well and according to my plan. Even if this blog is no good, even if it’s repetitive or boring, at least I’m spending my time productively. I’m not spending my time doing something that will leave me feeling regretful. I may not even publish this blog. It doesn’t matter. It’s still time well spent.
For me there is often a tension between planning and living in the moment, but the two ideas don’t have to be at odds. When I plan, I can often be in the moment. If the plan doesn’t work, I can readjust. When I live in the moment, I can accept whatever is, but it’s usually easier to live in the moment if I have some kind of plan, even if the plan is to make no formal plans and just see what happens.
Too much spontaneity or too much structure can both lead to frustration. So, I’m going to write my plan for the day and then follow it. If it doesn’t work, or if something needs to change, I can always shift direction. What I can’t do is wander aimlessly throughout my day with no direction. I’ve spent too much of my life doing that. That usually leads to boredom and frustration. The other danger is that if don’t have a plan, someone else will have a plan for me, and it usually won’t be one that I like. That will lead to resentment.
So here is my plan for the day:
· 12 – 4: Comic Con
· 4 – 7: Time with loved ones
· 7 – 10: Read, write, dinner, and bed
That’s a good plan. It’s simple, it’s doable, and it’s flexible. I wrote it here for others to see, not because I think my personal plans are so fascinating, but because I want to offer a model of what a written plan can look like. By the way, written plans are usually far more effective than just deciding mentally. It’s also important not to plan too many things. Tending to be ambitious, I have often planned more than I could do and sometimes felt frustrated afterwards. The good news is I got more done than if I hadn’t planned enough or at all. There’s an upside to most things.
Finally I think it’s good to be flexible. If my Muse suddenly appears and I need to be with her, if I need to write, then I’m okay with that. She’s my priority anyway.
There’s one other piece to all this: I need to have a plan not only for my day, but also for my life and for the next few weeks and months. I want to make some significant changes; I won’t put them here, but they require planning, too. Nothing is going to happen by itself. If I want my house on the beach, if I want to spend the rest of my life with my Muse, I need to make a plan work it.
Now it’s time to go and work my plans. It’s time to Get Started and Keep Going…and use my time well.