Stop What You’re Doing And Forget Your Plans

by Randy Murray on March 11, 2013

A while back I was the Director of Marketing at a company that designed and sold calendar and contact management software. I spent a lot of time thinking about schedules and scheduling. The staff talked endlessly about the subject. We talked with customers and people who we hoped would be customers. We thought long and hard about the every aspect of the subject.

After a time I came to believe that an event on your schedule was a contract. If you and I agree to be at a specific place at a specific time and to do a specified thing that we were obliged to be there and complete the task. Being late was a personal failure. Forgetting an event was unforgivable. I was careful to put only the most important things on my calendar. My calendar was sparsely populated, but fixed in stone. The past was a record of accomplishments.

At one time the company received word that Steve Jobs himself considered our software, but he wasn’t interested in it as it currently worked. He wanted a calendar, a schedule, that only looked forward. He didn’t care about what was scheduled yesterday or last week. He didn’t even want to see what he was scheduled to do an hour ago. It was only what was ahead that mattered to him.

I’ve thought about that, too.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that those things, the events of the future, don’t matter much either.

Last fall I had a business lunch. We ate and talked and the other person checked his watch and his phone throughout the meal. He remarked, “You must enjoy what you do. I can’t get over how relaxed and happy you seem.” I am relaxed and happy, for the most part, but I was surprised that someone else could see it. Perhaps he saw just one thing: I wasn’t in a hurry.

I still make plans and put events on my calendar, but these events are not fixed in stone. If I receive a call or a visit from a friend I’ll stop what I’m doing and spend time with them. If I have plans to go out to dinner, but one of my daughters calls, I’ll forget about dinner, for now, and talk with them.

I’m putting fewer and fewer things on my calendar. I have a list of things that I want to do. I have work I need to do for clients. I have plans. I schedule projects to be due on a specific day, but rarely a specific time.

I’m not unpredictable. I’m just trying to present, pleasant, and focused on who or what is in front of me. I very much want to be able to take full measure of the moment, not rush on to the next thing.

Here’s the new contract, the commitment that I want to make with friends and colleagues: Let’s make plans. And then, perhaps after we’re together, let’s forget about them and find out what comes next. Let’s do that together.

The Stop What You’re Doing And Forget Your Plans by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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