What Is The Essence Of Planning?

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If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. – Abraham Maslow

Saturday, 7.37pm

Sheffield, U.K.

I am, on the one hand, quite resistant to planning, and on the other, rather fixated on time – and I wonder if those two things are related. For example, I find it hard to follow a recipe. But I also know how important it is to start cooking at the right time so food is ready when people are hungry.

That last point – about being ready when people are hungry is an idea that I don’t think everyone shares. Some people start to think about food when they are hungry – and then start looking for what they can make. And that’s a bad combination. Trying to make decisions when hungry rarely ends well.

Here’s the thing. You’re at home – so many of us are right now. It gets to 4pm. You want to work till five or six so what do you do? Do you keep working until you’re done and then make food? Or do you make food at four, feed the kids at five and then go back and do some more work if you have to?

I tell my kids all the time that early is on time and on time is late. If you get where you need to get to early you don’t need to plan how to get there on time. Planning starts to be unnecessary if you focus on time instead.

I’m sure there are problems with this line of argument but let’s just meander down a world where you decide what to do with time rather than plan what to do.

What are you going to do first? The most important thing? That would make sense, especially if you want to start and maintain a new habit. When I started writing, for example, I always wrote early in the morning, first thing. And then it started to become a habit and when I started writing in the evening it didn’t take much time to adjust. But I think the thing that made it work wasn’t that I planned to write – but that I wrote at the same time, more or less, each day.

Now, you might argue that planning is necessary when you’re working with others because otherwise how would you know what everyone needed to do? But again that comes down to time, doesn’t it. Coordination is about time, about getting things done so that you meet at the right time with the right things done. Right now, for example, I’m racing through these words trying to get them down before the kid’s bedtime as I hear their not so gentle thumps heading upstairs.

Many choices and decisions seem to come down to questions of how much time you’re going to spend on what. Time with the kids, time on your relationship, time at work, time on the side hustle, time on a hobby. Time is all we have and how you spend it is what becomes your life.

There is a systems thinking quote from Stafford Beer that says the purpose of a system is what it does. I think that works for people too. Your purpose is what you do.

Spend your time wisely.

Cheers,

Karthik Suresh

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