How planning helps me relax

Girls having funI’ve gotten a lot of criticism over the years because I plan too much. I’ve been told that I need to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘just learn to relax’. But what most don’t realize is that planning things out is what allows me to relax. It seems contradictory but its very true. If I know what to expect in a given situation, I can be the most flexible and relaxed person in the room.

Planning creates order out of the swirling chaos in my mind. At any one time, my thoughts jump from one topic to the next intermittently. By writing things out, or creating mental lists, it creates order and gives me something to focus on. I can organize and process my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I can come up with ideas, goals, and plans and then take steps to achieve them. Planning things, rather than just letting things happen, reduces the stress of not knowing what’s going on. As someone who doesn’t enjoy surprises, this is hugely beneficial.

Even when it comes to spending time with friends, I like to plan everything out from start to finish, laying out all the details. For example, when I spend summer weekends downtown with my friends, we choose a time to meet up. Once I know that, I’ll figure out how much time I need to get ready, to drive to the train station, to take the train downtown, and to walk to the meetup location. Having a time-frame to work within calms me down and keeps me on schedule. Plus, I never have to worry about being late (which is one of my biggest pet peeves).

We’ll usually start out with a game plan, like walking along the river, and we’ll see where the day takes us. In my head, I’ve already compiled a huge list of potential activities we could do. We could go to the movies, check out the shopping mall, peruse the open market, grab food at a restaurant, stop at a coffee or bubble tea shop, check out alternate walking paths, take the train to other locations, do impromptu photo shoots in the park, or just relax on the grass. Even though we’ll never go through that entire list, knowing what our options are allows me to relax as my mind is no longer focused on figuring things out.

Obviously life is unpredictable, I can’t plan everything, and flexibility is another thing I’m still working on. But planning helps me to de-stress, and I’m not going to alienate that part of myself, or feel guilty for it any more.

Have you had similar experiences?

Image credit: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Nicole Pierce is licensed under CC by 2.0


14 thoughts on “How planning helps me relax

  1. twainwall says:

    I do this too! 🙂 It’s actually quite fun to plan things out and I’m always early for things or try to be. Definitely being yourself makes things a lot easier and it helps the flow of the work or whether your going out for the day as well.
    Nice post Ally. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. introvertplayground says:

    I do this too, and it’s super stressful when people don’t adhere to pre-determined plans. It’s terrible when people are late–or worse, make me late! It’s nice to be flexible, but hey, humanity’s biggest accomplishments were all planned in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bart Leahy says:

    I bounce between spontaneous and planning. I might suddenly get the urge to go for a walk, but if I do, it’s to or around a specific place. I don’t just step out the door and start rambling. Similarly, if I feel the random urge to take myself out for dinner, I will think over where I want to go before getting in the car. I have a “non-plan plan” vacation coming up with a couple friends this month and I still asked for some general guidelines: have we nailed down specific things we want to do? Do I need to dress nicely for anything? Are there any hard-and-fast rules for things that others will NOT do? Too much fuzziness can create headaches if everything is done at the last minute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      That sounds a lot like what I do too 🙂 I might decide to go for a run on the spur of the moment. Then as soon as that’s decided, I plan out my route, my departure time, and how long I’ll be gone for. Hope you enjoy your upcoming vacation! Thanks for commenting 🙂


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