Planning for Neglect

I remember reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about a concert pianist who was asked about the secret of his success. He answered, “Planned neglect.” He then related how he first began to study the piano. He was young, and many things were tempting and tugging on him for his attention and time. So each day he began to take care of those tugging demands. Then, after taking care of all those other things, he would return to his music, meaning his music was getting the leftovers of his time and energy. But one day he made a decision to deliberately neglect everything else until his practice time was completed. That program of “planned neglect” accounted for his success.

If you’ve tried to be all things to all people and ended up failing on most fronts, here’s a solution: Daily develop and fine-tune the strategy of the concert pianist. Plan to neglect nonpriority projects, issues, activities, and distractions in order to complete and manage well those roles and responsibilities that are truly the most important. Then see what you can do with the lesser items on your list.

What are the few areas in your life that are most important in God’s eyes? Are you a son or daughter? Spouse? Parent? Sibling? If so, these are roles where your planning is most vital. This is your God-given family—a stewardship and priority given to you by God. What one thing can you plan to do today to enrich the lives of those closest to you?


Are you stressed out by your responsibilities? At a crossroads in your life? Wondering what to do about a complicated relationship? Don’t guess about the next step and hope for the best. Get a clear view of the right path as you follow God’s wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Elizabeth George takes you on a journey through the 31 chapters of Proverbs, which cover the matters closest to your heart in Proverbs for a Woman’s Day.

Read Planning for Neglect on Elizabeth & Jim George.

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