The magic in knowing that I’m not doing certain things is that I don’t feel guilty about not doing them, and usually I don’t even think about them at all! This is key because in most areas of my life (research, teaching, parenting, running a dance school, keeping on top of my house) there is always something more I could do. Always. Nor are these frivolous tasks—I mean reading another key article, or reading another book to my kids, or searching for more authentic teaching resources online, or finding performance opportunities for my dance students. Without limits on these activities (provided by planning), it’s easy to worry that I’m not doing enough, or I should be doing something else, or trying to squeeze one more thing in, or multitask in some new way. In fact, prior to upping my planning activities, I used to feel this way all of the time, constantly stressed and frazzled.
Now, although I probably do exactly the same quantity of things I did before, I feel much better about it (although never stress-free 🙂). I also think this raises the quality of the things I do because having time limits means I’m more selective and also more focused. So I might not be doing everything, but I’m doing the most important things (at least according to me). Furthermore, if I suddenly feel inspired to do something at a time I’d planned not to (like grade papers on an airplane or at a conference), it’s a bonus, rather than something I planned and then failed to do.
So, what do you think? Is knowing when you’re not doing things as key as knowing when you are doing them? What do you plan not to do?