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Plan to not

Sam Gans | Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I’m not a fan of planning.

I appreciate the student planner Notre Dame distributes every year… because of the coupons inside. But if there’s a meeting I must get to or an assignment to undertake, I have a different tool I use to remember: my brain.

Of course, there are two types of “planning.” The type I just described is passive: making note of something you must do and scheduling a time to complete it. The second is more active: actually organizing something in advance.

And – surprise – I don’t like that one either.

I went with eight friends to Miami for the National Championship in January. Nothing was organized pre-trip except departure time and lodging (even for non-planners, there are certain limits.) The rest was off-the-cuff, including where we’d go each day and what we’d do. The trip was nearly completely improvised, and, besides the four hours inside Sun Life Stadium, it was outstanding, especially because we went into it with open minds.

If you plan too much in advance, you limit yourself. You don’t feel comfortable to, or more likely can’t, break away from the script. That’s not a good thing.

Frankly, I believe the amount of time it takes to plan could be used for something better – like actually doing the activity you are planning. And a perverse sense of pride emerges when something you decided to do an hour earlier turns out incredible.

But a strange thing is happening to me in my senior year: I’ve started to think days and even – gasp – weeks in advance. And I now actually make use of the student planner for its primary purpose, not just to order a large Domino’s pizza for $6.99.

The reason for the change? The amount on my plate.

You might or might not be surprised to learn not planning leads to procrastination. Like everyone, I’ve always been swamped at ND, but even more as a senior, as I try to balance the time necessary to find a job, focus on school and make sure I spend enough quality time with great people I may not see more than once a year moving forward. I don’t have a choice but to prepare what I do in advance. Perhaps this is a good thing as I ready myself for the real world and its deadlines.

“Do everything in moderation,” many Notre Dame students are told by family, teachers and even priests. Have fun, but stay on top of your work. Maintaining a balance is key. Planning is no different. Both too much and too little of it create stress and limitations.

So will I continue my recent trend? I plan on it.