Planners Vs. Procrastinators: Of Control Freaks and Slackers

I am not a control freak… except when it comes to my own time.

Despite being a pretty social person, I could essentially see myself as a loner who happens to be outgoing and have good people skills.  But my personal time is closely guarded.  And I happened to marry someone who is the same way.  That means when friends invite us last minute to an event, the answer is usually no.  On the other hand, we are such planners that if friends invite us to an event at least several days in advance, we will definitely be there.  Not only that, we will not back out of the plans or be late.

Because we are such planners, every day is already accounted for: even if the event we already planned is to “do nothing” for the afternoon.  We don’t prioritize our calendar’s events based on the seemingly most exciting thing going on.  Instead, we go by what was planned first.  I think the psychological reason behind this is that one of my biggest pet peeves is being interrupted; jumping on board with last minute plans is an interruption to my schedule.

While there are so many elements in life I can not control, my schedule is something I am able to have a decent amount of control over.  My schedule is my time; my time is my life; if I can control my time, I am therefore able to control my own life.  I may not be able to control other people, but I am able to be in driver’s seat of my own life.  Not shotgun or in the sidecar.

Heckler from the crowd: “You just wait ‘til that baby gets here… He’ll be the one controlling your calendar from now on!” Right, I get that, but… we will still find a way, to the best of our ability, to “find a method to the madness”.  (I have this habit of placing clichés into quotation marks.) Because that’s what we “control freaks of our own lives” do.  We are wired that way.  The schedule will be built around the unpredictability of a newborn, yet still in some sense, there will be a schedule and consistency.

The irony here is this: For so many of the things in life we think we have no control over, we still can choose how we react to those situations; therefore, having control over the situations.  I used to get irritated when I would be two minutes late to work on occasion.  Because I couldn’t understand why if I left at the same time every morning, sometimes I would be two minutes early, sometimes on time, and sometimes two minutes late.  Then I realized that in order to never be late, I just needed to leave five minutes earlier, causing me to always beat school buses, grannies, illegal immigrants who always drive 25 miles an hour because they are driving without insurance, and the rest of the phase of commuters like me who all left at the same time.  But now, I outsmart them all.  They no longer have control over my life (and my stress level).

Of course, not all annoying things in life can literally be planned around or outsmarted.  But when that’s the case, I remind myself that either I am in control… or the event is in control.  If my Internet isn’t working right, then I shut off my laptop and find something else to do- I don’t allow myself to become irritated over a piece of technology.  If someone is tailgating me while I’m driving the speed limit, I pull over and let them pass.  I just know that if I’m am consistently getting stressed multiple times a day and I can feel my blood pressure going up, the problem is not the problem itself.  The problem is me and how I am choosing to react.  I have to choose to be in control of my own sense of well-being, if nothing else.

I am a planner.  I can plan around certain uncertainty.  I can plan around my own unrealistic expectations.  I can even plan to be spontaneous.  But even then, I still plan for it.


4 thoughts on “Planners Vs. Procrastinators: Of Control Freaks and Slackers

  1. You guys need to move to Winder, based on this email you could be great friends of mine and jason’s. I could be sitting at home with nothing to di and if I got a call from a friend to meet her out for dinner 99.9% of the time my answer will be “no, I’m busy”. But if we make plans Jason and I will only cancel if both of our cars break down and we both have stomach viruses. Thanks for making us feel normal or at least justified.

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    • Yeah, seriously. I feel so much normal now too knowing we’re not alone in this. Truthfully, WE are the normal ones. And just think: our kids, who will only be around 7 (?) months apart will be planners just like us!

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  2. I never feel bad saying “no” to last minute plans because a lot of times I think either they took a long time to invite me or they’re horrible at planning. That said, I have a reputation for being flaky but I just don’t like doing things that I wasn’t aware of at the start of my day. I think this is due partially to my need for control and controlling things but also to my anxiety disorder. Perhaps my whole need to control things stems from all of that; I never had a therapist tell me.
    When I read the part about the baby though, I instantly started thinking about how despite liking things to be planned and not being spontaneous, there’s definitely a difference between someone wanting to go to a party on thirty minutes notice and taking care of a baby you love. When it’s something or someone that important, I feel control issues can be set aside and not as detrimental to your happiness with things as opposed to dumb stuff like traffic (every bad driver/driver habit you mentioned? Happened to me today on my way to work. Yay.) Does that make sense? I don’t know.

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