Getting things done? No chance

To plan or not to plan, that is the question.

Leavergirl has just written a thought-provoking post about the Dangers of It (as has Antonio Dias over at Horizons of Significance).

Much as I love and respect them both, I remain unconvinced; in my day job, which involves huge amounts of data and distraction and “noise” accompanying the rather important “signal”, if I were not to plan, things would rapidly go tits up, with serious consequences.
If I didn’t try to gather some sort of picture of the day, and try to be aware of possible problems, I would collapse in a gibbering heap (even quicker than I currently do).

Maybe I am being unfair, setting up a strawperson? I doubt they’re saying that you should try to understand your universe. But the point is not, of course, to interpret it, but to change it. And if I don’t plan, I will end up even further from my goals (both personal and imposed) than I currently am…

Eisenhower said it best, imho: Plans are largely useless, planning is essential…

PS Conflict of clear-thinking statement: Am beginning to get hacked off by our chronic short-staffedness. This may be blunting my usually razor-sharp intellect (cough cough).

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10 Responses to Getting things done? No chance

  1. leavergirl says:

    Hey… maybe there is a third possibility, and it does not involve collapsing in a gibbering heap??

    Here’s a quote for ya from Ogilvy’s Living without a Goal:

    “You know the story. Get up in the morning. Go to work. You confront the tasks in front of you. You experience each moment as a means to the next. One job leads to another. You become a tool of your tasks. This is slavery, not freedom.”

  2. vivmcwaters says:

    Hey Dwight, I think you’ve touched on an important point – and I’d like to add a distinction. As you probably know, I’m not a fan of planning either. I do however need to schedule. I get so distracted, if I didn’t schedule my day I’d soon look up from whatever it was I was doing and find the day had disappeared. It may sound pedantic, and maybe it is – scheduling, allowing me to be where I need to be when I made a commitment to be there, leaves space in-between for whatever emerges. I have had so much success in recent times by living by this mantra that I’m not about to stop now: Show Up. Let Go. Jump In. The Show Up part is scheduling – the Let Go and Jump In is about letting go of plans and going with what is happening in the here and now. Oh dear, now I’m starting to ramble. There’s the problem in commenting early morning (my time). Cheers, Viv

  3. Antonio Dias says:

    Viv’s distinction brings up the need to treat habit seriously. What she calls scheduling is part of a broader focusing of attention, a rigor that is outside of the chains of manipulation and means justified by ends.

    The gibbering blob you fear is a strawman. This is the way Ego maintains its justifications. Without its “control” we would collapse, explode, cease to exist! “Disregard that man behind the curtain!” It cries out! The last thing it ever wants us to consider is that we could be better off without it!

    Habit, practice, rigor, and discipline are central to living outside of coercion and control – whether from a “nice leader” or a tyranny, whether internally or externally powered. It’s just that these don’t happen to be what they appear from within a coercive, manipulative environment.

    Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Then ask if it is something violent and hostile rushing to answer, some form of internalized coercive control. When we listen to Ego we end up falling into an escalating pattern of fear and anger. We find ourselves getting increasingly off-balance and pressed by urgency. None of this is ever really directed at the simpler question of how can I live rightly and be effective. It’s all there to keep us in thrall, off-balance, and vulnerable. Ego wants drama not effective action.

    If the strains we attend to are something else, we find an increasing sense of strength and balance and integration into a whole being that is both alive and able to address questions with creativity and compassion.

    Let’s not be reduced to holding up Eisenhower as a “role model.” He was a monster. He was “our” monster, and by comparison to what has followed, he was ridiculously tame; but ask anyone who was there if “Operation Overlord” was anything but a grand, bloody clusterfuck! Just the kind of Gotterdammerung the forces of Ego are aimed at and end up generating. Don’t forget, when things are bad, escalate! That way we’ll be busy and we can always say the bad results were “unforeseen, unintended consequences!”

  4. dwighttowers says:

    Thanks to all three of you (and to any lurkers wondering if they should comment, please take the plunge!)

    As I get older (if not wiser), I come to appreciate just how important (freely chosen) habit is. And am trying to develop some.

    “Ego wants drama not effective action” – you’re probably right, yes! And I am getting sick of living with a drama queen…

    All best wishes to you all

  5. leavergirl says:

    Hey, wontcha come and comment on Vanessa’s latest? She let’s you off the hook on the small daily plans; what about the rest?

    • dwighttowers says:

      One of my favourite quotes, thanks for adding to this post! This is what the military is (I’m told) so big on – groups of soldiers being able to innovate within the overall plan when (not if, but when) things go tits up. It can be simple – Napoleon’s dictum that if troops on the battlefield are lost they should march towards the sound of gunfire – or more complex. My fear is that most of the time most of us are waiting for someone to come and save us/tell us what to do…

  6. leavergirl says:

    So why make’em, wibbler? Maybe we need something that does survive that crucial contact with reality…?

  7. Jack Ellis says:

    All plans require a certain amount of abstraction – something has to be left out of the picture in order to draw the picture – and what we choose to leave out can tell us an awful lot about what we’re trying to justify…
    …and meanwhile the big wild world just sits out here, outside the frame, doing its thing in full colour 3D.

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