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Archive for December 7th, 2007

The wonderful and interesting Bloglily has challenged me to reveal how I plan.   After reading her several posts on the subject, I feel dreadfully lacking in the planning department.  

I started cogitating on the reasons that exist for my abysmal record in the field of actual putting a plan into effect.    For the record, I append a copy of a representative week from my planner.  If you look at it closely, you may start to appreciate why the utter futility of trying to make a plan and stick to it has impressed itself on my consciousness.

plan.jpg

Okay, I admit it freely.   This is not really a representative week.   As I look back into my personal hystery (and yes, that misspelling was purposful) I recollect that that particular week was a week when all hell broke loose in our personal lives in response to the fact that on Valentine’s Day our wonderful adoptive son’s life reached a nadir and we were compelled to respond to that or watch him crash and burn.   The trip that Jim took up to Iowa in order to extract our son from the very sticky and nasty situation he finally implored our help to rescue him from does not appear on this plan.

That whole episode put us right out of the celebratory mode.  Hence you will note the notation on Saturday: “Party here 4” is crossed out.   The simple act of putting a line through those two words and number necessitated the issuance of a mass email and several phone calls in order to make sure that all the people invited knew that it had been cancelled.

Look at the planner closely, and you will see not just one,  but three appointments that were rescheduled to different times:  Amy, Meredith (with sauna) and Angela.  There are also several appointments that were just cancelled.   I’m here to tell you that it was not me who was cancelling those appointments.  

This is what I have learned.  You can make plans, but you are not really in control of them.   You are especially not in control if your plans involve any other people, or if you have a family that could possibly become ill or need help.    It is important to maintain some flexibility when making plans, or you will go stark raving mad when they all come to naught.

When Jim and I lived out on the family farm, you could plan all you liked, but if it was pouring rain, you weren’t going to go fix fence that day even if you had planned to do it all week.   If a cow was in distress during calving, you went and rendered aid or lost the cow AND the calf, and it didn’t matter if it was midnight during a downpour.   During calving season we made a habit of walking the maternity pasture at sundown, and if anyone looked like she might be calving during the night, someone got up to go check on her progress.   Other people who make appointments with me have children and farms and businesses.   They can’t always make it to get their massage at the time originally set. 

Today I had a regular client call and cancel her appointment because she doesn’t have the money for a massage this week.  A while ago, she had to miss because she was having one of those bovine reproductive disasters.  I know she’ll be here next week, God willing and the creeks don’t rise. 

This brings into focus one of the risks of being self-employed.   You can’t always plan on how much money you are going to have each week either.   Last winter when we had the big ice storm and my power was out and my house was cold, I couldn’t do massage for 13 days.   Did that impact my bottom line that month?   What do you think?  At least my laundry costs went down at the same time.

One of the things that is never on my planner is the garden stuff.   Plants and gardens grow and develop at their own rate.   I do not plan for the day when I have five gallons of tomatoes to make into puree and can, or 3 pounds of green beans to pick, snap and blanch.  I go out there, look around, and do what needs to be done.   Fortunately, I have a partner in the upkeep of the place.    Between the two of us, we get it done.

That is how I deal with the day to day planning thing.   There are bigger projects.   For these, we have a list that is posted on the refrigerator.   The following document lived on the door of that appliance for about two years.   As you can see, certain things (like the sauna, the vineyard, the fence around the vegetable garden) got accomplished.

list.jpg

Recently, we updated the list.   If you compare the lists, certain things have disappeared, others have been added.   We also decided it would be wise to prioritize things a little better, too.  The most important thing to address, the beams under our floor that are starting to suffer from dry rot, is indicated by the arrow.   Needless to say, some of the items require the application of large amounts of money, others simply require elbow grease. Some things never make the list, but require both.  (One thing that was never on the list but rose to the top of it in priority was the leaky water line from the meter to our house under the driveway that we had to take care of last August.  Ultimately, that required money and elbow grease.)

list-updated.jpg 

Big projects like the stroll garden we are building happen in the white spaces in my appointment book.   See that big gap of time in my date book on Friday between L-smear and Ca-illegible?   That would be a time when I go out and work at whatever big project I am engaged in in the garden, be it planting pea seeds, cutting back the shrubs, moving rocks to form a garden bed, or digging a hole for a new tree.  Lately it has been the stroll garden, which has really shaped up nicely.  

So how do we accomplish big things like the stroll garden?   I shall answer that question tomorrow.   This post is already long enough!

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