I’m nearing the 1-month point of my Keeping on Top of Things habit, and here’s one thing I’ve learned: better planning = increased spontaneity.
Far from feeling burdened by my daily schedule, I actually feel more free to divert from it. I’ve read about this but experiencing it daily is a different thing. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve really had everything “under wraps” for more than a week at a time, and I find it surprisingly liberating.
Say a friend wants to have a drink in the evening. After a long day I’ll likely say yes. Having a planned task list in front of me lets me say that “yes” with a fully conscious understanding of what I’m opting out of – I can take off from my work and know exactly what I’m missing.
Without a clear schedule, I’ll still take the break, but only with a vague sense that “there’s something I ought to be doing”. It’s one of the trade-offs of being self-employed: there’s no such thing as being “off of work”, there are just time you “choose not to work.”
As Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured, gets managed.” My daily plan serves as a measurement – a constant standard of what I’m accomplishing and what I’m opting out of. As a result, less weeks go by where I ask “What did I accomplish this week?”, yet I have more time to make guilt-free spontaneous decisions.