The Planner Manifesto: 5 Reasons to Stop Planning Now

I am a self-confessed planning addict. I spent $50 on a custom planner that I am borderline neurotic about filling in with work schedules, class deadlines, and my training plan. I have a whiteboard on my bedroom wall that I update weekly with ‘To-Do’ lists and my desk drawer holds more sticky notes than one person should ever use (but there’s a pretty solid chance I actually will). Procrastination for me generally involves having a laptop-crashing number of tabs open in Safari as I plan the details for my next camping trip, long bike ride, or business venture. I’m that person who doesn’t go to the grocery store without a list (whether or not I stick to it is a completely separate matter).

I don’t think that makes me particularly unique, though. Spend any time on Pinterest (or around girls who do) and it’s pretty clear planning is *in*. There are entire blogs dedicated to ‘How to Plan’, tons of custom planners, downloadable worksheets, e-books, bullet journals, Instagram accounts… And don’t forget: the prettier the better. It’s not enough anymore to be over-the-top organized, you’ve got to create something aesthetically pleasing in the process.

Planners are becoming less of a tool and more of a distraction. They’re now one more thing we can use as a toxic measure of our self-worth (because we needed another…). Striving to ‘have it all together’ has gone too far. Here is why we should all stop planning now


1) You Forget to Actually Do 

It is entirely possible to get so caught up in planning that you never actually get around to doing all the things you’ve planned. I’m definitely guilty of this though. The thing is, planning shouldn’t be your hobby. Set down the felt tip pen and get out there! It can also create a false sense of accomplishment, so you wind up feeling like you’ve done a lot when really all you’ve done is write down what you need to do (again, guilty of this as well).

2) It Inhibits Mindfulness

When every detail of you day is planned out, you stop listening to yourself and rely on your planner to guide you through the day. You’ll start to tune out your needs in favor of being able to keep checking things off your list.

3) The Unexpected is Harder to Handle

Planning creates a certain level of self-confidence and a feeling that you’re in control. But, every over-planner knows the panic that comes from something unexpected popping up that throws off their entire plan for the day (or worse, the week!). Suddenly all you can focus on is how on earth you’ll get everything done and trying to rearrange your goals and plans for the day. The reality is, life tends to be unexpected more often than not, and no amount of planning can change that.

4) Spontaneity Can’t Be Planned

Unexpected doesn’t necessarily mean bad though — sometimes it’s a last minute opportunity or an impulse to break from routine. The fun and excitement in these experiences comes from the instantaneousness of them, and that’s something that can’t be planned. Not everyone likes surprises, and I’m definitely a fan of routine, but being open to opportunity sometimes means being a little more free with your schedule.

5) It Can Be Discouraging 

Planning, and sticking to it, requires a lot of self-control. While it can be a useful tool, it can also be disappointing to be overly aware of every time we don’t succeed in meeting a goal. And when a goal is still far away, over-planning can make it more difficult to motivate yourself to work towards achieving it. Sometimes you just have to jump in even if you don’t know how deep it is. (Want to learn more about this? Check this out:


Ok, this may sound great in theory, but, as someone who has never written a paper without a perfectly crafted outline and who would never make it to a doctors appointment on time if I didn’t write it down, I know the reality is, for most of us, planning is here to stay. But I also think a lot of us (me included) have an over dependence on our planners that are taking us out of the present moment.

So, here’s my challenge for you and for myself: Pick a day this week to plan as little as possible. Be aware of what you need to get done, write that down if you must, but otherwise go by feel. This isn’t an excuse to do nothing, continue to be productive, but keep an open mind to what you need and what opportunities present themselves.

  1. Juan

    April 5, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Reasons 1 and 2 are my favorite. I did a “stop dreaming and start doing” type of post and I definitely agree with number 1 in that sense. Also, the mindlessness part resonates well as we can get so caught up with following a linear route, we forget the unexpected can happen. Life’s unpredictable. Good post.

    1. smstartz

      April 5, 2017 at 2:56 am

      Thanks! Do you have a link to your post? I’d love to check it out.

  2. Carla

    April 23, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Sometimes it’s satisfying to have a busy planner! But your right it doesn’t mean that I actually did a lot 🙂

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