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Plan but Manage Your Expectations

Note asking what to expect next

Do you like to plan? I do. I love to plan. I end every day by making my plan for the next day. I make a plan for the week, the month, the quarter, and the year with the understanding that plans can always be modified.  Even now, during these uncertain days of Covid-19, I plan. I take the time to do this because having an organized plan, free of clutter, makes me feel in control. Things outside my home are changing every day. It’s hard to know what to expect.  The plan I create for my day lets me decide what I want to do and when I will do it within reason.

Of course, there are still things to work around like scheduled meetings or other virtual appointments. In this pandemic time, the longer range plans I made before Covid-19 struck, however; have either been altered or completely scrapped. I’m certain that this has probably happened to you, too.

Managing expectations and being flexible has long been an important part of my plans as you never know if life or circumstances is going to throw you a curve ball. I find that being flexible and not piling too many tasks into each day provides necessary wiggle room. When you give yourself the ability to adjust your plan it’s easier to accommodate the unexpected things that life sends your way.

This pandemic continues to keep me on my toes as things are constantly changing. Even routine appointments are handled differently now. The way I used to expect an appointment or errand to work simply doesn’t happen anymore. I’m realizing that while planning is important, it is even more important to manage my expectations, to be flexible and understanding.

Managing Expectations

Diane's dogs, Miles and Josie
Miles and Josie lounging in Diane’s sitting area

I recently made an appointment to take my two dogs to the veterinarian for their annual check-up. If you follow me, you know that I adore my dogs. Miles is a gorgeous golden retriever/chow mix. He is 15 and a half years young. Josie is an 8-year-old Australian Cattle Dog. She is super smart and is constantly by my side. She often voices her opinion when I have virtual meetings.

In the past when I took Miles and Josie to their vet appointment, I would drive to the animal hospital, park the car, and bring them inside the building to the reception area. The receptionist would greet the three of us. Then, we would wait until we were shown to an examination room. I’m sure those of you with pets are familiar with this routine.

During each dogs’ examination, I would chat with the doctor and talk about each dog’s personality. It was a warm and friendly experience.

A couple of days before our appointment, the veterinarian hospital sent me an email to let me know what to expect and how to plan for the appointment. The message explained that there is a new protocol to follow to keep everyone: animals, pet owners, and hospital staff safe.

Different Routines to Follow

The routine to follow was very different. I stayed in the car while Miles and Josie were taken inside the hospital by the vet techs. After a little while, the veterinarian called me to talk about my dogs. She reviewed their overall health and let me know which booster shots she was going to give. A little while later, a receptionist called me to get payment for the visit. After a few more minutes another vet tech brought Miles and Josie back to my car and we went home. It struck me that while I’m sure the medical attention was just as good, I felt somehow deprived of my time with the veterinarian. I chuckled at myself because that was sort of silly.

New Ways to do Familiar Things

There are going to be new ways to do familiar things. Restaurant experiences, air travel, hotel and resort vacations are changing. Manage your expectations, be flexible and understand that while parts of these experiences will be familiar other parts will be different.

Dining Out

Dinner with friends. Group of young people enjoying dinner together. Dining Wine Cheers Party thanksgiving Concept

 Some friends of mine here in Atlanta have dined out. The experience is very different in some ways and wonderfully familiar in others. The menus are disposable, the waitstaff wear gloves and masks, and every other table is seated with diners. I think it’s extraordinary to comment on eating at a restaurant. But, restaurants have been closed. I’m thrilled so many are starting to open and are accepting reservations. My friends told me that the food was delicious, and it didn’t feel as strange as they anticipated. I have not yet made eating out part of my plan. I will soon. Click here to find out about open restaurants in your neighborhood.

Air Travel

Asian tourist with luggage ,wearing mask to prevent during travel time at the airport terminal for protect from the new Coronavirus 2019 infection outbreak situation

Traveling to visit my son and his family in Seattle in late June is still in my plan for now. I’m holding out hope that I can go. I know that my airport and airplane experience will be different and familiar. It’s a lengthy five-hour flight so I’m hoping that the flight attendants will continue to offer water and snacks. My expectation is that the flight will not be overcrowded, and the security lines will not be as long. Click here for recent information about air travel.

Resort or Hotel Stays

Conceptual of travel and vacation.

Since I plan to stay at my son’s house I have not investigated staying in a hotel. My friend and colleague, Jonda Beattie, is traveling this week by car and will be staying at a hotel. She knows she will be following a different routine. Her plan has changed. She’s bringing some food with her to keep in the mini-fridge to avoid ordering room service. Click here for recent information from the hotel and resort industry.

Although many things are different now our environment continues to evolve. Who knows if things will go back to the way they were pre-Covid-19? All any of us can do is take this one day at a time. Whether you’re like me, love planning, and do it regularly or you only plan a few things here and there. Having a plan can help guide you. A plan can also provide you with some measure of comfort and control if you manage your expectations. Feel free to reach out to me for guidance in creating a new plan.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives.


  • Seana Turner says:

    It’s funny all the new routines that are at play. I just came back from the beach, where you are supposed to wear a mask when walking around or within 6 feet of people. Feels very weird to be wearing a mask on the beach. However, if this means I get to sit in the sun and look at the water, count me in! I’m not sure how long all of this will be going on. I think it does feel good to get an “outing” under your belt and realize it can be done safely!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Yes! Going out and doing the same old regular things puts a sense of normalcy back into our lives. We may be doing these things differently for some time but at least we are doing them. I’m a beach person also. I’m looking forward to a beach trip in August.

  • Diane- As I read your post and your anticipation of how things are or will be different, the word that kept coming up on the page and in my mind was “flexible.” Like you, I’m a planner. I like to know what will be happening and in the past, when something changed, I wasn’t so good about adjusting. In time (with age and becoming a parent,) the need to be flexible became essential. Because as much I liked to plan, the plan often had to change. Maybe things took longer to get done. Or maybe the plan was no longer viable. But I will admit that being flexible was something I had to work on, and still do. I also now recognize for myself that I need a combination of planned and unplanned time. That helps me to be more flexible and allows space for life’s unexpected surprises.

    We had a first this past weekend and went over to our friend’s home for a socially distant cocktail hour (which turned into two and a half hours) at their house. It was definitely different than how we used to get together. We sat outside, brought our own chairs, drinks, and snacks. And we didn’t hug. And while it was different, it was so wonderful seeing them and hanging out. The experience made me feel hopeful and deeply grateful.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Linda, I’m so happy you were able to spend time with friends – differently, but still there’s nothing like the in-person connection.

  • This is such a difficult time. My husband and I have had to weight the pros/cons of air travel vs. a two-day car ride across the country to be with a family member who is undergoing a serious medical procedure. Thank you for the travel tips.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      You’re welcome, Melissa. I hope they help you as you figure out what to do. Good luck to you and your family member!

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    I love seeing Miles and Josie! Like you, I’ve found that I miss the everyday friendliness of social interactions. I understand why we’re doing this but I’m sure missing the human element you mentioned. I used to chat to people in line at the store, now I don’t even go to the store! I walk my dog like a masked avenger, trying hard to smile with my eyes and say hello as I navigate the physical distance required to keep us all safe. I wonder if/when things will return to “normal”?

  • This is so timely. I just hung up from my friend who has been out and about, to the beach, dining, seeing friends. I find that I need to move at a slower pace as I am still in that cautious please.
    You are so right about planning and managing expectations. Probably now it’s so important because things keep changing. The next few months are going to be very interesting!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Yes, Ronni. It’s going to be interesting – we are all going to be doing things at our own pace and evaluating our comfort level as we go. Thank you for joining the conversation.

  • All the changes has everyone working on their new expectations. I am working again, but don’t plan on going out to eat or traveling any time soon. Usually the warm weather months is when I’m out the most so this is a big change for me. I miss hanging out with really people (zoom just doesn’t cut it) but I don’t have the comfort level to be out in public so much.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I agree, Janet. Meeting on zoom is good but doesn’t come close to meeting in person.