Of Mice & Men…(I’m Not Talking Steinbeck) & Attempting to Plan!

So last week I was all about rabbits and headlights, but this one has been all about mice and men! One of my mother’s favourite sayings has always been, ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men…’ – she never actually ended the sentence, and I’ve never been sure what she meant, but she usually used it when something was going catastrophically not to plan!

Anyway, the word that I’m focussing on in that sentence is ‘plan’ because I have been desperately trying to come up with one! Somebody mentioned in a webinar the other day, that to fail to plan is to plan to fail – and it really made me focus!

What I also came to realise somewhat late on in life some might say, is that I am really terrible at it!!! This came as a huge shock as somebody who is known as really bloody organised! I worked in the events industry for many years, and most days single-handedly juggle more plates than Royal Doulton, so how can this be!? Smoke and mirrors clearly, as my old boss used to say!

But if I think back to my school days it all makes sense! The moment anybody told me I had to plan an essay or a piece of writing, I would freeze, throw my pen to the floor in disgust, and disengage! Well, what is the point of that!? Writing is all about flow, and release and unloading your innermost thoughts! You can’t PLAN that..can you? And as a result, I never did it, and I probably never will.  The irony of this, of course, is that the only A grade I achieved in my entire academic career was in English!

So it would appear that have I blagged my way through a career where uber planning and org are kind of vital. I thought,  therefore, that the best thing to do to help me with my current predicament would be to work out how I had managed it. I thought that if I could do that, then I might be able to tinker with my inner software and get a bit better at the planning bit.

Clearly, the key to my past success has been my ability to organise, but organise on the hoof it would seem. I can tidy and sort at breakneck speed, and know that I apply that ‘tidy mind’ to many aspects of my life. I am very system orientated ironically, but those systems tend to evolve rather than involve any sort of pre-meditated planning?  I am also very resourceful and quick thinking, which means I have an innate ability to get myself out of the ‘shit’ fast!!!! And of course, I write a lot of lists! Resourcefulness, problem-solving, systems and loads of lists – all vital skills if you are a poor planner like me!!

What I also realised was that the creative side of me – the spontaneous, impulsive, curious and energetic bit, is battling with my very Germanic and system orientated soul! I did one of those ‘dare to share’ quizzes on Facebook the other day about what sort of creative you are, and it did rather shock me! All my friends were getting cool things like ‘revolutionary’ and ‘dreamer’, and I got ‘systematic processor’! Not very romantic at all!

These days as I juggle home life with trying to work out who I am post-family, I can safely say I generally aim to achieve far more than is humanly possible in one sitting! The ‘to do’ list can run into many pages, and I ‘intend’ to nail the lot in one go! And therein lies my problem and my dissatisfaction. That is why I have realised that I need to put a plan into place and stick with it. If I am to move forward, I need to plan a route through the chaos!

So this week, I’ve been clearing my ‘mental blocks’ – those things that have been on that list WAY too long, and trying to focus on the greater plan – the bigger picture!! So that I can make a….dare I say it…plan!!

Of course, the absolute golden rule of planning is not to plan too much – if you do, you will fail every day! Your plan should not be a daily brain dump of absolutely everything that needs doing – it should be an achievable goal for the time you have available that day! Two different things entirely!

Needless to say, I achieve more than most in a day because my saving grace is that I have 12 pairs of hands and when my brain is in gear, I can choreograph my way through a week of constant demands and conflicting duties, with the nimbleness of Len Goodman. But it’s not a healthy way to live your life!

This week alone I’ve reviewed two lots of web copy, designed a new logo and advert, sent out 15 invoices, run a marketing club, artworked 12 pages of a magazine (and I’m not even a graphic designer), dealt with a mountain of life admin, got up at 6.00am every morning to deal with my ironing mountain, got my daughter to all of her clubs, cooked nutritious meals every day, run 26 km …I’m not sure I need to go on… oh hang on a minute, did I also mention I’ve knitted a sheep!

Right, now where was that pen and paper!? First thing on the list…breathe!


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