The lost art of making plans - and sticking to them

Remember when you set a meeting date and time, and actually showed up? For some, it just doesn't seem trendy to stick to plans anymore.

Share

One of the benefits of living in the age of mobile phones, emails and social media is the sense of freedom it provides.

This is going to show my age, but I remember the days when you’d organise a time to meet up with someone, agree on a time and place, and then – you won’t believe this bit – actually have to turn up as planned. Old school, I know. There were no last minute changes, no “let’s push it back an hour” or “actually, let’s do this next week”. You’d just do what you agreed to do.

If it sounds thoroughly old fashioned it’s because I’m talking about the nineties, when ‘Setting a Plan and Sticking To It’ wasn’t the title of a self-help book, but rather an entirely necessary, if tedious, requirement for navigating daily life.

It’s not that you couldn’t change plans back then, of course you could. It’s just that the communication options at your disposal were landline phones, the fax and Royal Mail, none of them particularly conducive to last minute changes of mind. In theory you could have called the restaurant/bar/ice-skating rink and asked an employee there to alert your friend to your change of heart, but this is the real world I’m talking about here, not some Hollywood film.

Socialising back then was so very predictable and stringent; thank goodness things changed. At some point in the late 90s emails surpassed the postal service, mobiles usurped landlines and, overnight, any need to give a toss about sticking to mutually agreed plans, or even making plans at all, was superseded.

All of a sudden it was totally acceptable to send a text five minutes before you were supposed to arrive saying “bout 20 mins away”. An email on the morning of a proposed engagement saying “sorry, loads of work’s just come up, let’s do next Friday instead” became par for the course. Establishing a place to meet? Well, that could be done “closer to the time” even if “closer” actually meant after.

It was as if the market for social engagements had been fabulously deregulated. Instead of the old socialist-style system with inefficient ‘5-day plans’, stifling red tape and rigid expectations, we now had a free, market-driven system with floating timetables and elastic expectations. In short, individuals could at last do whatever the hell individuals wanted to do!

This was, of course wonderful. No-one had to make any decisions any more. You never had to choose between options. In fact you didn’t have to commit to anything at all because you could just cancel or postpone on a whim with little more than the gentle press of a thumb. You didn’t have to care about anyone else’s time any more because you could be confident that no-one cared about yours. Everyone was happy.

Well, almost everyone. There were a few poor souls, let’s call them losers, who decided not to change with the times. You know the ones. Those schmucks who foolishly turn up when they said they would. The idiots who thought when you said “12:30 for lunch” you meant “12:30 for lunch”.

They’re the ones sitting at the bar by themselves looking through their phone contacts, marvelling at the number of people they know whose surname start with ‘P’ because they’ve run out of more interesting things to do while they wait.

They’re the ones staying back at work, playing solitaire and organising their emails in alphabetical order while they wait for you to “just finish up a few things” at your own, more important workplace.  

And, if they’ve got kids, they’re the ones who have probably gone and organised someone to look after those kids, which makes them look more than a little bit silly when their mate texts to say he can’t do tonight anymore, “how bout tomorrow night?” When will they ever learn?

It’s sad really. Like the old codgers who still order cappuccinos, these people are caught in the past. There’s a whiff of arrogance too - expecting others to turn up on time just because it suits them.

But what if – and I’m sure they’re not – but what if they’re onto something? What if the fashion for sticking to plans and turning up on time was to have some kind of hip, retro revival, like 1980s pop music and moustaches? Maybe then there will be … oh hang on … something more important has just come up. I’ll have to finish this article later. Tomorrow?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower