How To Plan When There’s Nothing To Plan For

The Organizing Professionals

2020 was to have been a milestone year in the Bernstein/McBride household. At the beginning of the year, our calendar displayed a fun-filled, jammed-packed year of once-in-a-lifetime events. My oldest daughter would graduate law school, my younger daughter would graduate college, my stepdaughter would graduate high school, my other stepdaughter would turn 21.  Summer trips to Europe had been booked to celebrate our daughters’ amazing achievements. My husband and mother-in-law would celebrate big zero birthdays! At the beginning of the year, we often discussed how there would never be such a memorable year for our family.  How right we were; but for all the wrong reasons.

Our digital calendars now show “cancelled” after each of the graduations, parties, and trips. I guess I could just delete them but since I partially use my calendar as a journal. I want to be able to click back to this year and remember the cumulative impact and disappointment.

Of course, we have much to be thankful for. We are all healthy and my husband and I still have work. I didn’t realize, however, how much satisfaction I derive from planning (and this was a year that required a minutiae level of planning). I created several Trello boards just to keep me on track (which I highly recommend).

While I can’t share any great tips on how to deal with disappointment (but if you have any, please do send them my way) I read somewhere that while we can’t plan and organize future events for the time being, it’s important to focus on what we can control. This piece of advice has been a game changer for me these last couple of months. As someone who is highly motivated by accomplishing tasks, I created a list of items I loathe doing or have been postponing (because I loathe doing them). Then I broke these items down into small time allotments. Items on this list included:

  • A large writing project, I have put off for a couple of years. I tackled this by dividing the project into exceedingly small sections. As each piece was completed, I was able to check if off which gave me a huge sense of satisfaction and motivated me to continue.
  • Password Management. I finally downloaded a password management app. This task is unbelievably time consuming! I gave myself a goal of inputting 5 passwords into the app each day. It took well over a month. I am now reaping the investment of time and absolutely loving the ease of accessing my accounts. Again, highly satisfying!
  • Weeding the front yard. My mother had the most beautiful English garden. Located on a steep hill, there were separate flower beds, fish pond, green house, vegetable patch and if you climbed all the way to the top you were rewarded with a magnificent view of the North Sea and surrounding countryside. Alas, I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb. I think I loathe gardening even more than inputting passwords. Over the course of three weeks, I set a timer for an hour and began to work my way around the beds. I am happy to report it took a total of 13 hours. I admit, the sense of pride and satisfaction is (almost) worth it!

I combined these dreaded tasks with more pleasurable activities, long walks, at home workout classes, daily afternoon tea with the family. I also reduced the number of items on my daily “to do” list to practice self-kindness.

While I may have been forced to re-tweak my planning for the year, I have managed to find satisfaction and fulfillment in activities that are within my control. Feel free to drop me a line or comment on how you are managing your planning during these uncertain times.

Stay healthy and safe!


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