Planning for the unplanned

Mikhael Kates

Schedules are hard.

Really hard.

The dictionary defines a schedule as "a series of things to be done or of events to occur at or during a particular time or period."

In my experience, a schedule is a list of items that you expect to do, but then everything goes haywire and you end up doing things that you either weren't expecting to do, hadn't planned on, or simply forgot.

Schedules are hard!

Missing plans, cancelling plans, forgetting that you were supposed to be the clown at your niece's 8th birthday party, and then remembering 6 months later.
It strains relationships.
It causes people to lose trust.
It could be why the last time you visited your sister, your niece kicked you in the shins.

I've been there, and those kicks hurt! Fortunately, this is shortly after the new year, and with new years come new resolutions! So throw away that plan to "eat heathier" or "exercise more" that you aren't going to keep, and resolve to plan smarter! Let's start with the basics:

Start with a plan(ner)

The obvious first step is to set up a planner. If you don't already have one, a planner can help you keep in mind what's happening when, but a more likely issue is that you don't remember to write it down. Remembering to write things down can be hard, especially if you're already having a hard time remembering what you're supposed to write down to be remembering.

What can we do about that?

Well, there are any number of handy scheduling apps, calendar apps, and the like. With everyone having a portable planner anyways, it's easy to remember that when you set up that meeting over text, you can switch over to your calendar and set up a timeframe.

What about in-person plans?

These are a bit harder to remember, what with adorable little 7-year-old nieces running around and having tea parties. I've played around with methods and found that the easiest way to remember is to have your calendar on your home screen so that when you open your phone again, you're reminded to make a plan for whatever it was was scheduled. Repeat until second nature.

Buffer your plans with plans

This is easier to grasp than to follow, and it has to do with planning an amount of time around your planned time. I've found that 30 minutes before and after a planned item is ideal. 1 hour meeting? plan for 2 hours. 30 minute lunch? plan for 90 minutes. The extra 60 minutes isn't a hard and fast rule, you can adjust to your liking or expectations. This isn't to extend your plans, but to make them more malleable. It's far easier to spend 90 minutes in a 60 minute meeting if you've already expected it to be 90 minutes. This will keep you from over extending your days and finding yourself unable to complete everything.

Make time for y

This one is imperative and almost requires a separate article on it's own. It's of vital importance that you take some time out of every day to relax, unwind, and focus on things that make you happy. It can be early, with a small nap; It can be late, with a nice show; It can be sprinkled throughout the day, in the in-between time that you have from your buffers. Remembering that the reason you make these plans is because people like you and want to spend time around you, so it helps that you like you too.

As I wrap up, and get ready to head off to my niece's 9th birthday party in a clown outfit, I'd like to touch on a cancelling and rescheduling:

Rescheduling - Sometimes all of this planning amounts to having to push things back. It's no big failure to communicate that you need to pick a better day. The sooner you mention it, the easier it'll be to take.

Cancelling - It happens. Sometimes something comes up and you can't reschedule a plan. A birthday party comes to mind, but maybe you need to spend time with a friend who's grieving, or maybe work was just too much. It's better for yourself to admit when you're over extended.

These two things are unfortunate, but so necessary to keeping your schedule, and mind, stable.