Princess of Planning
January 7, 2011 § 5 Comments
I am my mother’s daughter. And I say this while realizing that I will never be half the woman my mother is, but it’s at least something to aim for. One of my mom’s greatest traits is the way she plans some pretty phenomenal parties, two weddings included. (Of course, I know that my mom would probably say that planning fabulous parties isn’t always a fabulous process.) My mom is the Queen of Planning. She creates lists that have purposes, uses calendars the way calendars dream of being used, and mobilizes the troops to enact her plans swiftly and efficiently. She is the Queen of Planning.
I, as a daughter, am the Princess of Planning. I, too, make beautiful lists full of good intentions. I also know my way around a calendar. And eventually I mobilize my troops.
But here’s why she’s the Queen and I’m not:
1. Lists: anyone can write a list. I’m writing one right now. But a list without a true purpose is just wasted ink on a scrap piece of paper. When my mom writes a list, it’s not just some random thoughts that crossed her mind and were written down in an arbitrary order. Her lists serve a purpose–they keep her on track as well as her helpers. For most events, she can write a list in a specific priority. For bigger, more elaborate events with more pieces, she writes a list with completion times…miniature deadlines. It keeps everyone on task. At this stage, my lists seem to be random thoughts in an arbitrary order. They tend to be more lists of “things I really ought to do at some point.”
2. Calendars: just as anyone can write a list, anyone can fill out a calendar. Of course, seeing an activity written on a calendar with a date often encourages people to complete the task assigned for the day. When my mom uses a calendar, it’s sort of an event in itself. If she has a list of important dates, she’ll pool those lists together and streamline them nicely into her calendar. She checks her calendar consistently and doesn’t just let it sit there staring at her. Her calendar is an organizational tool–not an instrument of torture. I have many calendars. MANY. When grading, for instance, I write on my office calendar, “Grade 5, Grade 5, Grade 5,” etc. for five week days so that I don’t fall into the frustrating habit of having to “power grade” all on one weekend. Of course, I inevitably ignore my tool and use it as an instrument of torture and guilt, feeling like crap when it gets to Day Six, and I haven’t even graded one paper.
3. Troops: when recruiting your troops, you must be fully aware of everyone’s talents. This can take a lifetime to learn but is worth it in the end. My mom knows her helpers (i.e. all of us), and she knows in which ways she can use us so that the task is completed with great efficiency and little stress. When we two daughters introduced two more men into her recruits of troops, my mom had to evaluate (through observation) what these two additional men could bring to the helpfulness equation. But at this point, I am confident that we are well-seasoned and each know our appropriate tasks. For instance, when my mom and dad are hosting a party at our house that requires lots of food and rented tables, everyone knows which task they should perform. We have gotten so good at our roles that we rarely need to ask where our help is needed. (Plus: there are the lists that we can check at any time to make sure we are accomplishing what needs to be accomplished.) I haven’t fully accomplished the sophisticated level of recruitment that my mom has. I tend to mobilize my troops way too late…like the day of the event…and without much warning. So far, I’ve gotten better with Robert. But there is much more improvement to be made in this area before I can even hope to call myself a Queen of Planning.
Today, I am meeting a friend of mine (VL of the Girls’ Night Recipes) for coffee and to create a dissertation agenda. Here are my fears: I can write lots of arbitrary lists (I know what I need to accomplish), I am obsessed with filling out calendars but never look at them again (if it’s a self-imposed deadline it’s flexible, right?), and I’m not much good at asking for help (a dissertation is a one-person affair, yes?).
But I’m hoping to change all that today. Yes, I am still the Princess of Planning because I am nowhere near deserving of the title Queen that my mom currently has. I have to learn her methods and actually apply them before I can be considered the Queen of Planning. But that’s what today is for. Today, V and I will be creating deadlines that are anything but arbitrary. We will hold each other to those deadlines and expect each other to fulfill them. And I will learn to ask for help (help proofreading, help brainstorming, help with accountability).
Until I fully learn these things, I bow gratefully to my amazing mother.