The Planned Post

Huawei Huawei in my hand

Who’s got days and weeks all planned?


I let my phone tell me what to do. That’s a bit of a vague statement, isn’t it? I mean like I’ve told it what to tell me to do. Hmm, that’s still not making much sense. Well, here’s how it is.

There’s this app called TimeTune. At it’s core it’s a planner, or a scheduler if you will. It’s not like a calendar, though. You can tell it what your typical day looks like and it’ll tell keep track of it and let you know when it’s time to do the next thing and if you set up a week’s worth of schedules, it’ll remember to make sure you know that 8pm on Monday nights means TV time. I totally recommend it if you’re into planning your days or week down to the hour. I use it differently, though.

I’ve got my week set up as my ideal week. The idea is to be able to, at a glance, know what you should be doing at that very moment in order to be the most productive. For me, this is the routine where I get the most done. Y’know those days when you feel like you really did a lot and made good use of your time? Like that. I’m looking at my phone right now and it says work which is what I’m doing right now writing this post. It’s a form of work, i.e. not being idle. I don’t really like being idle so this works out well for a psychopath like me.

To me, that ideal week represents a me who is on top of shit and in control. It’s a persona I can step into because I always know what it would be doing at that moment. I’ve found it really useful when I’ve ever felt super slack, tired, or bored. I may wake up in the morning feeling like a drowsy sack of potatoes but I know this persona will be in the gym in an hour, so I’ve gotta get up and get to the gym. This routine embodies who I want to be and knowing the steps to follow make reaching the destination so much easier.

But that was a roundabout way to arrive at this week’s topic; routine. What is it about routines, timetables and schedules which make them such a big part of life? Turn that question around. Can you imagine not having routines, timetables or schedules? It’s weeeird. What purpose do they really serve and why are they so integral?

STOP. Hypothetical time.

Scenario 1

You wake up in the morning, the soft sunshine filters through your curtains and the birds chirp their morning songs. Oh crap today is the day you meet Ashwin to go to the movies. Or is it? You think for a while and you’re pretty sure it is movie night so you crawl out of bed and drag yourself through the morning. You decide to mix things up and have breakfast before brushing your teeth, much to your mother’s dismay. Eventually, you’ve dressed yourself.

When were you meeting Ashwin again? You think on it and you’re pretty sure you two were supposed to meet at the movies at 6pm. Now that you’ve successfully remembered a time, you sit down in front of your TV and begin mindlessly channel flicking. Wait what?! Today’s the first day of the new football season?! You’ve become angry that you missed the first two games already. Your phone rings in the middle of your glorious football game viewing. It’s your partner and they’re wondering where you are and whether you had found any parking. You realised that you two had a lunch date planned and were supposed to meet at this new fluoro burger restaurant. You’re obviously late and there’s no way you would have gotten there in less than half an hour so you apologetically call off the lunch date.

A couple of hours pass and you’ve decided it’s probably best if you leave now to get to the movies on time. You’re about to leave but you can’t find the car keys. Your mother tells you that your father took the car out to get it serviced and probably won’t be back any time soon. You’re now very cynical and resort to catching a bus to the movies but you will definitely be late. You send frantic messages to Ashwin explaining the situation but he doesn’t reply.

After getting off the bus, you make your way towards the movies and one of your friends sees you walking past from inside a cafe. She runs outside and ask you what took so long. You’re confused. You tell her you’re on your way to meet Ashwin at the movies and she looks at you. She is puzzled. She tells you that Ashwin is out of the country. You were supposed to meet her and some other friends at this cafe half an hour ago and bring a cake because it’s your other friend’s birthday meetup.

Great job, you d-bag.

Scenario 2

You plan your days and have a calendar so none of that bad stuff happens.

 

No I’m kidding, not planning days doesn’t make anyone a bad person. If you can remember what to do and when to do it, then you are my hero. But do you get the point of the hyperbolised story? In scenario 1, there’s no routine and there’s no plan. That person doesn’t know what they’re meant to be doing or when they’re meant to be doing it. It kind of makes the day lose its purpose.

That’s kind of an out there thing to say but let’s think about it. When you’ve got a plan or schedule for a day, you’ve set a goal for that day. When you’ve planned a dinner for a night with a friend, you’ve got something to look forward to. Don’t you find that days when you have nothing planned feel a little bland? Like those sorts of days are just fillers in between days where you actually do have plans?

The person in the first scenario also had no idea what to expect. They didn’t think anything of the day. Oh crap it was the day they were meant to meet Ashwin. They were just planning to watch just whatever was on TV. Oh crap there’s been quality football on TV for the past four hours! They were planning to watch football until it was time to leave for the movie. Oh crap they had booked themselves for lunch! They were planning to drive to the movies. Oh crap dad took the car! In the end, they were completely wrong about Ashwin and the movie altogether. That whole day is just one big gloomy smokescreen of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is that sinking feeling you get when reality just does not match your expectations. Or something like that. Imagine you’re at school and your maths teacher has written up an equation on the board. You’ve done the homework, you know the answer is 5. The teacher asks Timmy what he thinks the answer is and he says 12. Wtf? Your teacher then asks everyone who agrees with Timmy to raise their hand and everyone except you does so. WTF?!

That’s cognitive dissonance, friends. What I’m saying is that he who does not have a plan, or is unaware of the plans around him, reveals himself to cognitive dissonance. It’s just nice having the security of a planned day ahead of you. You know you have a brunch at 10am, you know you have a meeting at 3pm and you know you have gym at 9pm. Surprises are nice… until they’re nasty and unexpected.

So what am I trying to say? I don’t know I never planned to get this far.

Routines can be helpful to keep us flaky human beings on track. Routines make us feel good inside when things go as planned and we avoid cognitive dissonance.

I like routines.

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