The Pitfalls of Planning

I am a really good planner and organizer. I don’t say this boastfully, but as a matter of fact.

I keep a detailed to-do list, complete with due dates and timeframes. I schedule work time on my calendar, with specific things to finish in each block of time. I relish checking off accomplished tasks, and I’ve been known to add new tasks simply for the pleasure of marking them complete. I keep track of family obligations, and what others around me need to get done, so that I can “remind” them of their responsibilities.

Now comes the whining: I hate it. I hate being the one who always has to plan. I hate being the one who schedules, then nags to make sure the schedule is kept.

But I have to do it, because no one else steps forward to do it. Or rarely does. Or doesn’t do it soon enough to suit my tastes.

When our kids were at home, my husband used to sit at the breakfast table reading the newspaper on Saturday morning until I asked, “What are we doing this weekend?”

“You tell me,” was his response, always offered with a small grin, as if he had been waiting for my question and knew I couldn’t help asking. Which was true.

And when he said “You tell me,” I did.  I outlined all the kid activities and work time we needed to fit into the two days and asked him to choose which of the many chores he wanted to do. I corrected him when he made illogical choices (like being two places 30 minutes apart that took an hour to drive between), and then presented him with the POW (Plan of the Weekend, in Hupp family terminology).

What irritated me the most was that he was perfectly capable of planning. He could do it for the Naval Reserve units he led. For them, he developed a detailed and precisely formatted POD (Plan of the Day in Navy terminology), including uniform of the day, Navy history esoterica, and other information pertinent to the efficiency of a well-conducted drill weekend.

But he didn’t seem to like planning. So on weekends when he was home, he sat back and waited for me to raise the issue of the POW. Which I would do every Saturday morning by 9:00am. Usually by 8:00.

I think my inability to avoid planning comes from my Myers-Briggs profile – I am a strong T and an off-the-charts J.  The T characteristic means I’m logical and rational, as opposed to emotional and sensitive.

The J characteristic means everything must be decided. And for an off-the-charts J, it must be decided NOW.

I simply can’t wait for other people to make the decisions, so I do it.

I recognize that means I’m not always the nicest person around. So be it. If my J tendency is satisfied, I’m happier.

But sometimes it gets tiresome. Because when I am responsible for making the decisions, that means I’m responsible for making GOOD decisions.

And for making everyone else happy. Strong TJs on the Myers-Briggs scale don’t really care about making people happy. But they do care about accountability. So I become accountable for happiness.

I spent a week-long vacation with my sister once. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in part because she planned half the days’ activities. And she was pretty fast about it.

We weren’t close as children; there were both too many and not enough years between us. But now I wish I could spend more time with her, because she could take over some of the planning. I think we could keep each other happy.

And now this blog post is written. One more thing I can check off my to-do list.

Posted in Family, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. I wish I could plan better. Actually I’m a good planner, but I rebel against the plan once I put it in place. I think that’s a reaction to a life spent meeting other people’s expectation until I was sick of it. So now I don’t plan, or, if I do, I know I won’t follow through. I admire your ability to plan and then do it.

  2. What a great start to my day. I was laughing so hard I was crying. That explains a lot about me–a fellow “off the charts” TJ.

  3. What a great start to my day. I was laughing so hard I was crying. That explains a lot about me–a fellow “off the charts” TJ.

  4. Pingback: Central Planning . . . or Planning Central « Story & History

  5. Pingback: Central Planning . . . or Planning Central « Story & History

  6. Pingback: Injury and Logistics « Story & History

  7. Pingback: Injury and Logistics « Story & History

Leave a Reply