I’m supposed to be at a music festival in Germany right now, not at home writing this column. My friend and I made the plans months ago. For obvious reasons, that festival isn’t happening.
My kids should be preparing for camp right now. Back in January, I created a camp spreadsheet organizing where each of my four school-aged children would be during July and August. Now all those camps have been canceled as well.
When nothing goes according to plan, it’s tempting to conclude that planning is a giant waste of time. Life is unknowable. Perhaps the hours I spent organizing my children’s summer should have been spent playing with them instead.
The mismatch between plans and reality is well-documented. The project-tracking software company iDoneThis found that 41% of all to-do list items never get done. And just 15% of “dones” started as “to-do” items. We don’t do a lot of the things we plan, and we do a lot of things we don’t plan.
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But this doesn’t mean planning is futile. It’s just evidence that most people don’t plan particularly well.
Even if life is unknowable, the process of thinking through the future can ensure that whatever future does arrive, you’re better prepared to deal with it. Planning is a beneficial use of your time whatever happens.
Planning enjoyable things increases the chances that they happen
When it comes to moment-by-moment happiness, people rate socializing as more enjoyable than watching TV. Yet how many of us spend evenings and weekends watching TV because we haven’t made the effort to call friends and make plans to get together?
Or take my Germany trip. With all my kids to be accounted for, and a husband who also has a job, I wouldn’t have been able to go without first making a plan. The coronavirus was unforeseen, but many plans do…