Future Planning is an executive function!

All Work and No Play? Sharpen the Executive Function Skill of Future Planning – for fun!

Many people struggle with planning, the “thinking-ahead” executive function skill. Caught up in the demands of their daily lives, they start to feel like life is just endless work.

It makes me both sad and concerned when I see parents and children stuck in that mindset. I had always thought this was a symptom of our 21st century lives until I looked up the proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” According to Wikipedia, that saying has been around since at least 1659!

One of the primary goals of the Seeing My Time course is to help people develop strategies to plan for their future; to connect their present choices to future outcomes. Nothing raises my spirit like watching people begin to plan for FUN!

Why Is it Important to Plan for Fun?

planning for fun

Planning for fun is a great way to practice the executive function skill of future thinking!

Contrary to what some believe, planning for fun does NOT have to be a chore! It allows you to experience the break that you actually want, crafted by you. Think of it as giving yourself (and your family) a beautiful gift.

Here are some important reasons why planning for fun is not only recommended – it is necessary!

  • Booking tickets and hotels ahead of time makes it much more affordable to go away. Waiting until the last minute means switching to a less desired option, or not going at all!
  • Planning ahead allows you to include everyone you want to participate, and is considerate to them as well.
  • It allows you to book all aspects of a trip without activities being sold out or full.
  • Thinking about where you would like to go and what to do puts the executive function skill of future planning into concrete, practical use. Planning for fun is…fun! It’s a great way to train yourself to apply future thinking to other areas of your life.
  • Involving your kids in planning ahead helps model what this process looks like. Involving teenagers in family trips is also a great way to engage their interest and allows them to actively participate in this executive function skill along with you.

How Planning for Fun has Helped my Seeing My Time Clients

Wondering what planning for fun looks like from the perspective of a time management expert? Here are some inspiring personal stories with my clients.

Marydee Sklar

A fun day hiking with my husband as a result of weekly planning!

A family in my Seeing My Time private sessions course recently shared a huge victory with joy and excitement. They had been struggling for months with time management, too bogged down by life to plan ahead.

In early August, they reported that they had found incredible plane fares to Europe for next year’s spring break. Learning the skills to plan ahead allowed them to be financially able to afford the tickets, because they bought them so far in advance. They are going to have months of fun planning and anticipating that trip!

I recently gave a downcast mother and daughter an assignment to plan some fun for the coming weekend. Mom sighed and said that having fun together was a problem in her family.

The next time I saw that they were both smiling and mom was practically glowing. She had created a memorable family experience that took only about two hours. And her daughter was pleased because she had downloaded a game that she could play AFTER she got her homework completed. Everyone was happy.

I observed another gratifying change in an adult client who was very resistant to scheduling ANYTHING. She was the model of spontaneity, albeit often double booked or very late, and experiencing anxiety in her day-to-day life.

Planning is an executive function that helps have funLittle by little she began to use her Seeing My Time Adult Planner System. I knew progress was happening when she shared her anxiety after she left her planner at home on Monday. She reported being amazed at how lost she felt when she got to work and contemplated her coming week. She realized that, prior to using the planner, she must have felt that stress and anxiety all of the time!

But what really sent me over the moon was her sharing how she and her boyfriend started talking about going camping. “I jumped up and told him that I had to get my planner so we could pick a weekend before the rains come. Before this course I would never have made a plan like that!”

I plan for fun in four time frames: daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly:

Here is an example of what that looks like! Tonight, I look forward to watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show.

This weekend could be the last sunny warm weekend for months, so I have already made plans to go hiking with my husband on Sunday.

Next month I have theater tickets for my husband’s birthday.

I just got home from a special trip to Portugal with my husband, son and daughter-in-law. The plans for that trip began over a year ago!

And as soon as I am done with this blog, I’m getting out my planner and blocking out all of my vacation days for 2019. Then I can start planning more serious fun!

What kinds of fun are you planning for yourself? Share them with us!


About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.

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Jo says November 2, 2018

Regarding: Planning for fun
I stopped buying birthday gifts for my four grandchildren several years ago. Instead I take each of them on a birthday trip of some kind. Usually this is just a weekend away for just the two of us. This accomplishes a couple of things. It helps me cross things off my “bucket list” and it provides one-on-one time with each child. Because I am single I had been delaying doing some things that I wanted to do because it was sometimes difficult to find someone else to travel with me. It is not always pleasurable to travel alone.
Some of the places I have taken my grandkids include: the Hood River scenic railroad; the Columbia River sternwheeler trip out of Cascade Locks; Mt. Adams Lodge; Wildlife Safari; Dozer Day at Clark County Event Center; Yachats, OR beach trip; Rockaway beach trip; Boise, ID to visit a relative. This past July my oldest grandson turned 15 and we went to visit a relative in Colorado for a week. This was his first plane trip. All the others have been road trips. The kids love it and I try to put together a small photo album of each trip that they can keep to remember our travels.
Maybe this idea would be helpful to some other grandparent who finds it hard to plan fun for themselves. Kids’ birthdays come every year, whether we want them to or not! Now that I’ve started this tradition, the kids won’t let me stop!

    Marydee Sklar says November 5, 2018

    Jo, What a wonderful idea to schedule solo trips with grandchildren. I hope you inspire others to do the same. I don’t have grandchildren, but I have been taking solo trips with each of my children for years. We have such great memories. I know your grandchildren will treasure the memories of your trips just as you do.

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