Your to-do list and the laughter of God

I like the old proverb, “man plans, god laughs.” I think I’ve mentioned it here before. I’m a big fan of things like planning, organizing, scheduling and pro-active strategies. But, I have to stop occasionally to remember that, although a great deal of our lives are controlled by our own choices, some stuff just happens.

Yesterday, everything was working well. I got up on time, wrote a post on schedule, finished up some research I needed to do and started the computer back-up I had planned.

Oops. The back-up drive wasn’t recognized by my computer. The disk sounded like it was spinning. But the lights that were supposed to come on did not appear. This wasn’t the first time it had happened. In fact, the brand of hard drive I used is known to do this from time to time. I had solved the problem before. So, I confidently went through the various processes recommended to make the drive recognized again. Two frustrating hours later, I had to give up and try to salvage the remainder of my work day.

So much for my to-do list. Now the good news is that I don’t just back-up. I triple back-up. (Remember, I said I’m a big fan of planning and pro-active strategies?) I have a second back-up drive, and I backed-up to that. Also, I have a “cloud” back-up service. So, my data isn’t lost. And I don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for data recovery. I do, however, have to go get another hard drive, in case my current single hard drive back-up fails.

Even though I only lost the time to try to fix my problem, two hours is a considerable amount of time. Especially when you’ve got a tight schedule. And even though I build flexibility into my schedule, I only build in an extra hour for disruptions.

I, and others who advise on performance and productivity have good suggestions and guidelines to help you keep your life and work orderly and easier. I follow my own advice as best I can. I plan ahead. I have a to-do list. I have a schedule designed with both time and order flexibility. I anticipate that there will be disruptions. Things go wrong anyway.

I can predict that every day will bring its own distractions and interruptions. I can’t predict what they will be and how long they will take.

When I, and other advisors like me, write about taking life into your own hands, making your choices, taking responsibility, planning and managing your time, remember that we can only make suggestions in general about how to do that. We’re not promising that once you do what we suggest things won’t go wrong and you’ll have a smooth path. There’s no such thing. What we suggest just makes the path smoother and makes goal achievement more probable.

Remember how I started this article — “Man plans, God laughs.” Accept that you can do everything right that’s in your power, and yet, what you’re doing may go wrong.