Just in case you don’t know this about me (which probably means you’re a new reader!), I love organization. To-do lists are my friends. Schedule and routine make me happy. Knowing what to expect gives me security.
And now you can just go ahead and laugh, because we all know how often life allows organization, completed to-do lists, uninterrupted schedules and routines, and fulfilled expectations. It just doesn’t happen.
So, how does a structured person maintain an attitude of flexibility and still stay sane?
Plan for it.
I know. That sounds odd. How do you really plan for flexibility? Well, as I take into account my personality, my family, the needs of homeschooling and ministry, and the typical flow of life in our household, here are some things I’ve discovered:
- Planning is good. It really, really is. Believe it or not, our family stays more sane when we have a disrupted plan than when we have no plan. That goes for a menu plan, a school plan, an chore schedule, a typical daily routine, and on and on.
- Never plan in ink. Okay, so I do use ink. But it’s erasable. (Frixion pens are my friends!) The point is that I have to plan to be flexible. Plans change. So, in my head, I need to allow opportunity for the change from the very beginning.
That’s hard. But it’s possible. For instance, I do a lot of my long-term planning on the computer. Right now I’m using My Well Planned Day – a great resource for homeschool and life. If we need to adjust a lesson plan, all I have to do is click to change the date. Same with menu planning. It’s all in there, but it’s flexible.
Once a week, I put everything on paper for the upcoming week (in erasable ink, of course!). I’ve planned long-term, but I can easily adjust on a week by week – and even day by day – basis.
Now, I need to go ahead and take a moment to share a couple of things here:
– As happens with most of the lessons I’ve learned in life, the root of this one is spiritual. You see, I have this tendency to be ruled by my plans or my to-do list. But the Lord wants me to be ruled by none other than Himself. To be centered on Christ, no matter my plans. I have to be open to the Holy Spirit’s nudges throughout the day, and if I’m so stuck to my plans that I HAVE to complete them at all costs, then I’m not being sensitive to the Lord’s leadings. So, He’s had to work hard on me to get me to throw away the ink pens and adopt a more flexible approach to my plans and lists.
– The second thought is just as important. Being flexible does not excuse me from being reliable. I always need to be ready and willing to receive and extend grace when plans change. But, I also need to honor my commitments, choosing not to use that handy eraser, even when it’s inconvenient or difficult to stick to the plan.
- Don’t make a big deal about changes. Yes, I often process through changes verbally with my family. But we don’t make a big deal about it. We just make the changes. It wasn’t always this way for me. There was a time when any change in plan threw me into a tizzy, and I would make it clear that my plans were being disrupted. That only causes tension. It’s so much better to just go with the flow!
There’s so much more to being a flexible planner, but most of the “much more” branches off of those three practices. So, now it’s your turn. How do you handle either being a structure person needing to learn flexibility or a flexible person learning to honor the fact that working with others requires planning?