Wednesday, July 14, 2010

p is for...

I believe there are two types of people: those who plan, and those who prefer to be more free-spirited, spontaneous, and... stressed.

I used to be in the latter category. I scoffed at those who wrote an essay plan, guffawed at the very idea of writing down weekly meals, stifled hystrionics at the idea of a budget. Now, I'm firmly in the former camp.

I could kiss my meal plans. On the weeks when I don't plan my meals I become crotchety, nervy, stressed and spend, oh, at least twice what I should. Rather than meals being planned for ease, nutrition, taste and variety - they're hastily assembled from whatever pops first in my brain and then, as I'm cooking, I realise I'm making a meal with beef, and we'd eaten beef last night, and the night before...

When we went away last weekend, even though I'd been working late, late nights, we were still prepared. I went into my "general folder" {pink, sparkly cupcake icon on my desktop} and printed out "Long Weekend Away Check-list". Oh yes, I have checklists for our holidays: from overnight stays, two days, long weekend and week-long. This way we don't worry that we've forgotten the phone charger or curl cream - they're on the list and are ticked off. I know, sounds anally retentive, but it takes one minute to print out - less - how much time would you spend rewriting a list everytime you go away - or just mentally going through it all?

My working days are divided up in the same way. I prioritise and allocate chunks of time to tasks in order of urgency. Some things {such as vacuuming the crunchy kitchen floor - sprinkled with more cupcake toppings than the cupcakes} fall by the wayside under more pressing tasks {finding interview subjects for an article due in just over a week}.

While I used to be a free-spirit in love with spontaneity, I've realised that I much prefer not stressing. I'd like to know what needs to be done and tick it off a list. I think you need to work out what's important to you - and live it. I used to make grand meal plans back in the day. I thought that because I was organised I'd create gourmet masterpieces, try something different, and make everything impressive. But you've got to make space for spaghetti bolognaise. Meal planning's not meant to add another dimension to your life, it's meant to make your life simpler.

Planning makes my life simpler. It's weird at first, and can seem like too much effort. But now, it takes me three minutes to come up with a weekly meal plan. Then I just need to do a big shop, and take note of what I need to buy fresh. Less waste, less spending and less stress. Who wouldn't want that?


  1. This just makes me love you a little more. Oh wise one...teach me your (organised ways) checklists for weekends away? YES PLEASE! Fabulous PPMJ!

  2. Best thing I've ever done.

    Divide into categories:
    Kitchen {peanut butter, pepper grinder, salt, sharp knife}
    Entertainment {iPod, dock, chargers,}
    Hair {yes, has its own category}
    And you just work out how much you'll need for the total days away. Once you have the master plan you only need to add to it {I'll throw in bbq tongs on a summer holiday - hate it when they only have dodgy ones in the holiday house - I need my home comforts.}

  3. I once had a business coach who recommended planning spontaneous time. Time that you didn't plan anything that you could just do whatever took your fancy.

    I thought it was the funniest thing but it really works. It feels less restrictive to have some space.


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