How This Type A Planner Spent a Weekend 'Doing Nothing'--and Loving It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I am a planner.

I love lists.

I schedule everything.

I'm busy. It's the only way I get everything done.

In high school, I kept a list of everything I wore, so I wouldn't repeat an outfit too often. (My 16-year-old self would be aghast to know that my 30-year-old self often sometimes wears the same dress twice in one weekend.)

I make notes of the meals I eat in my planner, along with my workouts, any personal commitments, etc.

This summer in Honduras, with no phone, no watch, and no schedule, I somehow found ways to indulge my inner planner. My roommate, Jessi, and I took walks every afternoon. Each night, I would ask her what she wanted to do the next day, mostly as a way to make conversation.

She good-naturedly made plans with me each night. Finally, after a few days, she laughed.

"We're in paradise," she said, gesturing at the lush rainforest that surrounded us. "And we have nothing to do."

I laughed at myself and ignored my mental to-do list. Then came time to leave. With only one day left in this Honduran utopia, I had things I needed to do.

I needed to take a shower. (It had been days since I'd properly washed my hair.)

I needed to pack. (The taxi was coming at 4 a.m.)

I needed to pull my clothes off the line.

There was time enough for all that. I had only a few hours left of my vacation, and I was going to enjoy them. I threw my laundry in a pile on my unmade bed, atop my open backpack. I put on a pair of swim shorts, slathered on some sunscreen and ran down to the river.

For awhile, I bouldered up and down the shores, clinging to the rocks and working up a sweat. Once exhausted, I made my way to the middle of the shallow, fast-moving Rio Cangrejal. Like the lizards who called the rocks home, I lay down and stared at the clouds. I fell fast asleep.

It was blissful: The water crashing against the rocks, the sun beating down, and the sounds of the jungle lulling me into one of the best naps of my life. I awoke awhile later, tummy rosy from too much sun but happy with my random, head-clearing adventure and respite.

This holiday weekend, I decided to invoke that same attitude. Three days stretched before me, luxuriously free of any commitments or responsibilities. Friday morning, I felt that to-do list growing: I should run on Saturday, go to yoga on Sunday and Monday, hit the farmer's market for the last of the summer tomatoes…

Enough, I said. No planning.

So each morning we awoke with no plan, living each day "au feeling," as my boyfriend likes to call this spontaneous lifestyle. I did do all those things, and more, like hiking through a state park, exploring his hometown, and preserving vegetables for winter, but none of it was planned.

It just happened, as did the spontaneous naps, weekend happy hours, long walks through the city in the early hours, and much, much more.

Could I live "au feeling" all the time? No way. Should you? Probably not. Schedules, responsibilities and the like have their time and place.

But let this be a reminder to take some time to live "au feeling"--turn off the phone, ignore the to-do list and set out on foot or in the car with no destination in mind.

When was the last time you spent some time relaxing and not living by your schedule? Are you a scheduled person, or do you prefer a more laid-back lifestyle? 

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i schedule, and when i'm done with that ....i layback and have fun Report
Great Blog! I love spreadsheets and lists. I even made an excel spreadsheet for my Honeymoon. I wanted to make sure we did everything we wanted to while we were there. I spend half of my Saturdays "au feeling." The morning and early afternoon is reserved for food shopping, errands and the gym. the afternoon into night is not planned. Report
This is so timely. I had a spark friend who said she was going to have some "me time" over the weekend. SO I thought I need to try that and I "planned" on Sunday for me time. SO I "planned" what I'd do on my time off. hhhhmmmm I think I may have defeated the purpose. Oh well I got some relaxation in that way. Report
We get a lot more accomplished when we have a list for the day or a plan for several days, and sometimes it's vital when we have a tight schedule. But we also need to have "planned breaks" in our schedule, when we're going to do something fun, even if we decide at the last minute what it is going to be. Otherwise our days off get wasted doing things we aren't really enjoying. Report
What a nice thought! I think I've done this a few times, but they are few and far between. Report
Whenever I've thrown out my schedule to just relax for a bit, I have always regretted it. It just made me further behind more so than ever and caused my stress level to skyrocket. If I don't have a tight rein on my schedule of stuff to do, then things literally go amok and chaos reigns and I get really cranky. Not a good thing. Report
OMG! I couldn't believe it when I read it, but I also kept a list of what outfit I wore each day when I was in high school! I had completely forgotten about it until I read your blog. Too funny! Report
Great blog! I use lists when I really need to remember things. I use a calendar for planning at work, but I'm allergic to schedules on the weekends. I don't feel like I can relax if I have too much scheduled. Sometimes it's inevitable, but when it's not, I like to just drift into the weekend, maybe getting a little more sleep, maybe spending a little more time on my blog and responding to my sparkfriends, reading, listening to lectures on DVD (I'm an incurable lifelong learner), being there for my kids, shopping if I need to, making something with my hands (my hobbies are many) and getting some exercise. When all of my time is scheduled, I feel stressed out. Just fitting in all the things I've mentioned is a challenge. Report
I'm always going back and forth between following schedules and being spontaneous. My husband is BIG on schedules and needs a lot of forewarning if his schedule can't be followed. Report
I wish I could find the time to set aside my "to do" list and experience a weekend or even a day like this....sigh Report
I totally live by a schedule. I like things planned out AND I like back-up plans in case my original plans fail. yeah, it's a little crazy. Thanks for the reminder to slooow down and relax. Report
I'm a planner, as well. I have list and notes apps on my phone if that gives you any idea! :) Recently, my boyfriend surprised me with a weekend in the mountains. I couldn't believe how great it felt to set my lists and notes aside and take off with no plan in mind. We went hiking, explored the area, tried new restaurants, and had an incredible time. Although it may be difficult, it's definitely worth letting go for a brief moment to appreciate all that's around you. Report
thx for sharing. I'm a list-maker and planner as well. Report
I am a person who tries to live by a schedule, but, if something comes up, like going to the cottage, the pool..I'm gone, schedule is out the window. Report
I start making my to-do list for the following weekend on Monday morning. It all starts on Friday with a trip to the gym after work and then I head to the farm to get the weekly bounty. It freaks me out when friends want to do dinner or something else on Fridays because my plans are "ruined". When I get home I usually eat and then start the laundry or strip the bed. Saturday morning starts with a cup of coffee and some reading. Then yoga, starbucks and the gym. If it is the week for a pedi I will shower and head to the salon. If not then it is the grocery store and prep for the week. Sunday morning starts with coffee, then the gym or the park or a 5k in the neighborhood (depending on weather). Then it is home to finish the prep for the week and cooking Sunday dinner. Occassionally I will head down my friends house on Saturday night, but I HAVE to be out of there Sunday before 11 so I can hit the gym and get my stuff done for the week. No flexibility and no living au feeling... Report
I am a planner too and make lists of what I want to get done on my days off. When I have a lot to do I even put timeframes on my activities to make sure I have time to get them all done. I think this comes from working very long hours and not having time during the week to do household chores and errands, so I feel I have to squeeze it all into my weekend free time. The end result is more stress and no real time to relax and enjoy life. It's good to have a reminder like this article to relax and "stop and smell the roses" once in a while. Report
Ugh, you really hit home for me. Like you and other commenters, I am also a planner, list maker, scheduler. There are times this this planning trait is desirable and necessary; without it, our precious time away from work would be squeezed into middle seats on the plane and crammed into the worst hotels far from where we want to be. But I believe planning is also an addiction and sometimes a curse. Even though I had to work through the holiday weekend, I got up and made detailed plans for what to do with my time after work, plans I mostly ignored, because I was also trying to heal from dental surgery I had last Friday. In other words, it seemed like I set myself up to fail by making the plans while knowing deep inside I needed down time to heal. I took the down time but had a hefty dose of guilt for not accomplishing anything instead of consciously deciding I would rest. Report
I did nothing during the 3 day holiday and it was so good!

The weather was perfect so my puppy and I took gentle walks, then napped in front of the tv, grilled chicken from kfc and very little housework. I was ready to get back into the routine come Tuesday morning...

Sometimes doing less is more. Report
I love the phrase "au feeling," and I'm going to use it. If we all do, we may add it to the American vocabulary - and its mindset! Report
I am a teacher: a lesson planner, a list maker, a cross-it-off-the-list person! But on Labor Day weekend I had a non-planned weekend and it was glorious! I did what I wanted instead of what I 'should' do and I went back to school yesterday rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. We all need to just 'be' once in a while! Report
In our cultures very rear of us make a list for things to do every day. Either male or female, my hubby complains to us sometimes. But this is our lives, if I am not here on SP, I do not know how to plan my daily works. But mostly because I am not used to it, I forgot to do my list. Mostly my plan not what I do/did. So I seldom to make a plan. Report
I love flying by the seat of my pants. I've found that planned activities don't always turn out as planned and spontaneous activities are much more fun and adventurous.

Loved your blog! Report
I too am a list maker and an just goes better with a plan...but so love those mental vacations from list and organization and just winging it days of life...that's a real vacation for me. Just got back from 2 weeks of camping at the ocean and hiking, biking and spontaneous naps by the beach so equaled a true break from the so daily life. I will also try to add in some short vacations without a plan in the months ahead....your blog inspires me to keep vacation on my list..Smiles Barb Report
I schedule some things but I am more of the laid back type. Report
My husband wakes each morning and tells me what he's planning to do that day. Then we discuss it and decide where to go from there! Report
I loved this!! It is so true and really need to try and stop and do this more often because I think its a great way. I have totally change and have been trying to live by a schedule and I now forget what it is like to have that "au feeling" I think I need have a weekend like that very soon!! Report
Right now, the majority of my life is ruled by my toddler's schedule! If I don't keep to some schedule of wake ups, meal times, naps, etc, then I have more meltdowns than I can handle. Naturally I fall kind of in between the two extremes. I like to have things planned out for my day, but I also enjoy having days when I make no plans at all and just play things by ear. Report
I usually make a mental list of things I need to do over the weekend. This Labor Day weekend I did nothing but relax (not counting two loads of lauday) and spent time with my husband. I must admit, however, that from time to time during the three days I peeked out the window and watched the grass grow taller and thought to myself, "I really need to mow the grass and pick up some felled branches." I couldn't help myself since this is usually a weekend chore. Report
I am a planner too but not controlling. I just like to know what is ahead of me and know what is going to happen ahead of time. Report
I'm a planner. Well, I'm a controller, actually. I'm even in control of my unplanned time. :) Report
In my previous career, I had appointments scheduled for up to 16 hours a day sometimes. No more. That's a fast track to Crazytown. Tomorrow's my day off, and I have a couple ideas, but NOTHING written down, nothing set in stone. Report
I was once told that we are "human beings", not "human doings" and so we should spend more time just enjoying life... and sometimes I even slow down long enough to remember this gem of advice! Report
I am a planner, but I'll go through streaks, like right now, when the only plans I have are my weekly visits with my walking buddies. If the house gets cleaned, fine; if not, well there's always tomorrow or next week.

We are told to take a day off from exercise to let our bodies heal. I think the same is true of other facets in our lives. We need to take a mental day off as well as a physical day off. At the beginning of the last century we took Sundays off. It was a day of rest and worship. I remember in the early 50's that stores weren't open on Sundays (including at Christmas time), then late in the 50's a grocery chain opened for a few hours on Sunday afternoon and the rest is history. I'm not sure that it was healthy then and it certainly isn't healthy now. Going "au feeling", as Stephanie calls it, is more necessary now in the information age than it was in the agricultural/industrial age. Report
What a great reminder to us all that we need to slow down and enjoy the little moments! Thank you!!!! Report
I don't do well at planning because every time I have my plan laid out someone comes along and messes it up. lol Report
I'm a strong Type A planner/lister/scheduler and it is difficult to relax sometimes. I liked your article as a reminder to take a breather once in a while. Report
you can't help it it's the female brain. Report
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