Thoughts: Advanced Notice No Longer Necessary

I am a planner by nature.

It used to be absolutely vital that I have advanced notice regarding what is going on when and where and for how long so that I can enter it into my iCalendar, set the appropriate alarms on my Blackberry, and facilitate my laundry and ironing schedule so that the event-appropriate attire is clean and presentable

I get it from my father, the Scandinavian side of the family

We both might have messy desks full of Financial Times articles we cut out and phone numbers and business cards for our hairstylists and Nordstrom personal shoppers, but among those are eloquently crafted to-do lists. To-do lists featuring everything from a cover letter to write and a flight to reserve to something as mundane as “wash delicates.” My to-do lists tend to feature time assignments, frequently exaggerated amounts of time I allocate per task in order to compound my pride when I beat my estimated time at completing a task.

As children, daddy always allocated Sunday evenings to creating Excel sheets for Nora and I that hung on the fridge listing our daily chores along with their respective time slots. Empty dishwasher on Mondays and Wednesdays, play 30 minutes of guitar after school every day, an hour of basketball in the backyard…you get the picture. Of course, I always whined about it, about how silly it was for a ten year old and a six year old to live each day without much room for spontaneity, but in truth I understood it and have always been a planner myself.

That’s not to say that I am a completely rigid no-fun spontaneity-shunning type A of a person. In fact, my college years (I feel quite ancient and wise talking about college in the past tense) helped me become less reluctant to spontaneity and understand the meaning of impulse. My study abroad to India: Perfect example, there was no plan, I didn’t know where we were going or how long we were going to be there and when the next time I would be able to shower or fill my phone card. While it was painful in the beginning and inevitably resulted in reaching an epic struggle climax of “I want to go home and be comfortable again and have my greek yogurt and coffee at 8am and be able to straighten my hair,” I got past that and started to even delight in the chaos of unpredictability, of trusting that I have the skills to adapt to an unforeseen situation, and to stop expending an exorbitant amount of mental energy stressing out.

Plus, when you’re a college student most of the time people don’t know what they’re doing on Friday night until Friday night- and even if they do, that’s no guarantee- maybe there will be an impromptu Riesling and Brie party (yeah unlikely unless I’m the one putting it on) or it starts raining like the next apocalypse so no one wants to get soaked going downtown.

Lesson in all this: It’s okay to be an organizer, a planner, a punctual early-rising person whose heart melts into an Illy-Scharffen Berger caffe mocha at the degree of efficiency and rule-abiding present in havens such as Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and all the Scandinavian countries. However, it is also healthy to have a “weekend” from all the planning, to be okay with not knowing, with waiting, with “seeing how it goes,” “playing it by ear” when appropriate.

So yeah, about my living situation. All my instincts are yearning to return to Portland despite the lack of career-oriented job opportunities and despite the fact that San Francisco has much more to offer.

We’ll see. I’ll decide next week on my next POA (plan of action).

Until then, I really do have to go wash my delicates and call my hairstylist.

Are you a planner?

Do you embrace spontaneity? Have you always?

If you’ve graduated college did you move back home, bum it somewhere else, or find a job? 


6 thoughts on “Thoughts: Advanced Notice No Longer Necessary

  1. I love this post! I am a complete planner and thrive under organized lists and to-dos. I need to learn the spontaneity part still though. Next summer I’m hoping to go on a missions trip, and hopefully that will help me learn how to go with the flow!

  2. I am not very spontaneous and I hate that about myself. But there is something to be said for organized people…I thrive on Excel and I love utilizing it for absolutely everything.

    India definitely throws me for a loop. The lack of electricity and things like a proper shower really don’t work for me. I’m terribly set in my ways at 35!!

  3. This is excellent post. I’m an organizer/planner fanatic and like to have a plan each day.
    When I went on a mission trip to Ghana in 2007….I slowly began to learn to let go and embrace spontaneity (this is still hard for me though)!

  4. love this!!! i am such a planner but definitely have learned from being in college that sometimes its ok to throw out every plan out the window and just enjoy the spontaneity

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