The Power of Planned Neglect

In her book A Practical Guide to Prayer, Dorothy Haskin tells about a noted concert violinist who was asked about how she mastered this instrument. The violinist answered the question with these two words:

“Planned neglect.”

Then she explained.  

There were many things that used to demand my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished my work, I turned to my violin practice. That system prevented me from accomplishing what I should on the violin. So I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. And that program of planned neglect is the secret of my success.

Today, what do I need to neglect for something more important?

Yesterday when I got to the office, I immediately began to work on a project that is very important to me in my ministry. Unfortunately this is also something that I put off for two weeks. Oh, it was on my to do list. In fact, I had it prioritized. However, each day I pushed it back to the end of the day until I had taken care of other matters that were on my list.

The other day I realized that I still had made no progress on this project after intending to take care of it two weeks ago. I needed to practice planned neglect.

What do you need to neglect until you get an important project or task done?

Maybe you need to practice planned neglect.

Do any of the following statements connect with you?

  • What if I planned to neglect reading the news until I have read my Bible?
  • What if I planned to neglect checking my e-mail so often? Do I really need to check this several times each hour?
  • What if I planned to neglect texting so often so I could spend more time with my eyes looking at people instead of the screen?
  • What if I planned to neglect turning on the television so that we could enjoy being a family without constant noise?
  • What if I planned to neglect Facebook until I have first looked into the faces of my spouse and children?
  • What if I planned to neglect sitting in my recliner until I have first exercised my body?

Today, what do you need to neglect, so that you can do what is really important?

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