Planned Neglect

It’s April and I am slowly getting less and less time to read, do housework or even be on time for anything. I don’t actually know how some people do it without good help around them. I do the best I can and that means a rather nasty looking home….I planned it though.

Last year I bought a few books by John C Maxwell. In one of the books, I discovered 2 magical words: Planned Neglect. Before I explain what I did, below is an extraction from the book. It is short and pretty easy to understand.

William James said that the art of being wise is the “art of knowing what to overlook.” The petty and the mundane steal much of our time. Too many of us are living for the wrong things.

Dr Anthony Campolo tells about a sociological study in which fifty people over the age of ninety-five were asked one question:”If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” It was an open-ended question, and a multiplicity of answers constantly reemerged and dominated the results of the study. These were three answers:

  • If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more
  • If I had it to do over again, I would risk more
  • If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead

A young concert violinist was asked the secret of her success. She replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. Until my practice period was completed, I deliberately neglected everything else. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success.


Book: The Maxwell Daily Reader, John C Maxwell, Page 303.

I think planned neglect is brilliant. There are some serious considerations though….you can’t neglect your children or a clean kitchen, your cats. You get what I mean. As I get nearer to some months which I know has many activities –  be it personal or work, I have a sense of what I would be facing. For example, this week I’ll be attending an external training which have a 90% chance to include a lot of reading, exercises, presentation and exams. I prepared the best I could during last weekend to make sure my home is all taken care. But this week, my full concentration shall be on my training.

It was really tough when I started but it needs courage to ignore or neglect. Once the neglect is complete, the next step is to pick up the “neglected” and bring it back to normality. That is another challenge by itself.

Plan to neglect today and put first things first!! Good Luck!!

In the meantime, maybe I’ll rearrange the kitchen stuff by category…….nahhhhhhh….


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