To plan or not to plan: A story of two approaches

May 13 2010 Published by under Inspiration

to plan or not to plan



In my previous post, I promised to illustrate the importance of planning your day.

So, here it is:

Let me introduce a fictional character called Maggie. She is suffering with depression. She is in her mid-thirties, married to James and has an 8 years-old son Dillon. Maggie is a housewife, as she does not feel she is fit to go back to work since having her first episode of depression 6 years ago. She still drives and sees her old school friend Sally on occasion.

Take 1
Maggie’s alarm clock rings at 7:30am. She remembers the first item on her ‘To Do’ list:

“GET UP at 7:30”. Even though she does not feel like getting up and is feeling totally exhausted, she drags herself into the bathroom and starts her morning routine. Despite her aching body and low mood, she dresses up and enters the kitchen.

James is just finishing his coffee. “You’re up early, sleepy head!” He reaches to kiss her. She kisses him back, attempting to smile. “Have some fresh coffee, darling! I am off. Love you!” shouts James, as he hurriedly picks up his stuff and leaves for work.

“Why is he still with me?” ponders Maggie. “You are loved!” answers her wise self as she sips her coffee.

7:50am and Dillon is up. Maggie makes toast for them both while they munch on cereal. “I love having breakfast with you, Mummy!” says Dillon, and the smile on his face is priceless. “I should really do more with him…” thinks Maggie with guilt. She quickly interrupts this thought and pulls out her ‘To Do’ list.

“Oh yeah! I must pack Dillon’s PE kit for his basketball club and I have to call Sally”. Maggie gets the PE kit while dialling Sally.

Sally answers: “Good that you called. I won’t be home at 11:30. I need to take my neighbour to hospital. Oh, are you attending your group this morning? How about I meet you up at the reception instead? OK, see you later…”

Maggie drops Dillon at school. She checks her list again. “Buy potatoes before attending Defeat Depression group”. She stops at the store and gets vegetables for tonight’s dinner.

After an hour with the group, Maggie strolls through the hospital grounds to the main reception. She has 20 minutes to spare and she stops to notice that the gardens are freshly planted with pansies. It reduces her to tears. “There is so much beauty in the world and you stopped noticing that!” she accuses herself. “How about you scheduling some activities with Dillon this week?” whispers her mind, remembering the morning’s nagging thought. She makes a note in her diary and rushes off to meet Sally.

Sally is not here yet. Maggie notices a small shop selling goods to help the local hospice. Her eyes fix on the sign: “Volunteers needed urgently!” Suddenly she catches herself thinking: “What if I…Could I?”

Sally arrives and interrupts her thoughts. “I am done! How are you? Would you like to go to lunch with me? I can’t wait to try this new Italian café. My treat! It’s only a few minutes drive from here. Where did you park you car? Shall I meet you there in 15 minutes?”

Eating out was not on Maggie’s ‘To Do’ list and it throws her off balance. “I should say no. I don’t like being in public places. Why is she always changing things at the last moment?” It takes tremendous discipline for Maggie to pause and remind herself that it was her objective to catch up with Sally today and to try to have fun. So she takes a deep breath and nods to Sally.

While driving, all of a sudden she begins to feel proud that she looks presentable and is ready to face what seemed an impossible challenge earlier.

It’s only noon.

Take 2
Maggie’s alarm clock rings at 7:30am. She opens her eyes slightly, turns it off and mumbles to herself “Not another one of those days! Why me? Why do I have to feel so bad each and every day?” She closes her eyes and drifts back to sleep.

At 8:15am, Dillon enters her room. “Mummy, would you be able to take me to school or shall I call Rick’s mum?”

“Why is he always making me feel like an inadequate mother?” thinks Maggie, while saying “I will take you to school, Dillon. I have to go to the hospital this morning anyway. Get ready and hurry up!”

Maggie gets out of bed, throws some clothes on and they are all set to go within 10 minutes.

They arrive a few minutes later than usual. Suddenly, Dillon remembers that he forgot his PE kit. He has a sad look on his little face as he leaves the car.

Maggie gets stuck in the traffic jam out of the school drive. “Why couldn’t I get up this morning? I wouldn’t be sitting and waiting if we were just 10 minutes earlier. How could I forget his PE kit? Why am I such a failure? I can’t even be a mother…and a wife…James will have an affair. Why wouldn’t he? What would happen to me if he did?”

She finally reaches the hospital, feeling exhausted, nauseated, worried, worthless and… hungry…

She enters the room with a thought “What’s the point? It’s not that I’ll ever get better. What a waste of time.” Fortunately, there is some tea, coffee and biscuits to make her remain.

Afterwards, Maggie drives to Sally’s house. She is early. She is looking forward to see Sally’s always-smiling face and hear her cheerful voice. Sally is not in. Maggie reaches for her mobile, quickly realising that it is still recharging at home.

She waits for 30 minutes. Negative thoughts flood her mind. She feels lower and lower with each passing minute. Finally, she drives home feeling stupid, drained, isolated, confused and defeated.

Maggie climbs into bed and pulls the duvet over her head.

It’s only noon.

As I said in my previous post, when depressed, you cannot afford to enter another day without planning ahead of time!

The cost of not planning is too high.

Without planning, there is no structure to support you throughout the day. It becomes too easy to fall apart with the first setback and spiral downward into negativity, helplessness and hopelessness.

With planning, even with setbacks, you seem to cope better, feel more in control and able to handle challenges more creatively. You become more flexible and open to possibilities.


Love, Light and Healing!

P.S. Subscribe to be the first to find out how I plan my days (coming soon…)

Original image by: 123RF Stock Photos

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