The Psychology of Planning

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The Benefits of Planning Your Departure

Some of us are planners, basking in order and structure. Others could be called pantsers, flying by the seat of their pants; living spontaneously and not making concrete plans until they absolutely must. Just as so many things in life require planning, so does death. When you leave this earth, regardless of how you go, your loved ones remain. In the aftermath, they are faced with having to make quick decisions and rushed plans at a time when they are grieving and vulnerable. Families often spend excessive amounts of money providing what they think you would’ve wanted, because, well, they didn’t know any better.

To plan or not to plan?!

Creatures from squirrels to man use planning to ensure successful outcomes. We’re all familiar with To Do lists, trip itineraries, scheduling apps, time management and processes at work to ensure efficiency. The importance of documentation is recognised, and needed to make things crystal clear, realized and legitimate.

So, we’re comfortable with planning in life, but what about death? Without a definitive end-of-life plan, your loved ones are left with an overwhelmed pile of decisions. From what to do with your body or ashes to who gets what, as they wonder what the heck your wishes actually were, and where to even begin after your memorial. The list will be long and utterly exhausting during a time of grieving. Building your end-of-life plan now can ease some of that strain and ensure that your wishes are followed. The death of a loved one is even harder to cope with facing all these decisions than it would be if your family and friends could rest easy, knowing a plan was in place and your wishes known.

Planning leaves room for more important things

In “The Power of a Plan,” Timothy A Pychyl, Ph.D. states, “Once a plan is made, we can stop thinking about the one goal and make room for others. Of course, this is absolutely necessary as we all juggle many goals throughout our days and lives.” It makes good sense. Basking in the glow of an important task, once completed, is feel-good moment.

Many of us work best when we create To Do lists that feature realistic and manageable goals. Psychologist and author, Dr. David Cohen, puts our love of to-do lists down to three reasons: “They dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month.”

More recently, a study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed that, tasks we haven’t done distract us, and just making a plan to get them done helps to free us from the nagging anxiety that we’re all familiar with. To read more on the power of planning, visit:

Remaining relevant after you’re gone

Building an end-of-legacy plan will also allow you to share more of yourself by providing them with mementos such as the stories, photos and songs, right down to the Playlist of Your Life, that are important to you in Check-Out’s Making Memories section. You can prevent time from erasing memories and family history by building this Snapshot of Your Life.

Sharing the things that you love and that define you lets your true self shine through, whether as a Sinatra superfan, Star Wars geek, yoga devotee, would-be chef or lover of exotic destinations. As well, ask family and friends to contribute their favourite photos and anecdotes to tell your stories with even more depth. Team members can also share your stories, photos and song lists to use in memorial events, birthdays and anniversaries, as you’ve directed, and are so much more powerful than just a memory board. In this sense, planning ahead goes a long way.

Leave a legacy, not a headache

A lack of clear instruction about what you want done or what goes where or what to do with all your household items—and everything else you possess—can lead to the next family feud or beloved items being donated to goodwill, tossed or sold.  

A little planning can ensure that your valued things, including precious pets, go to who you want, as well as where additional items are donated. Also, what happens to all those books and the paperwork that bred like bunnies during your lifetime? What about the items in a storage locker? Don’t let these frequently overlooked items be forgotten. Unless you want your locker to be on a future Storage Wars episode or your prized in-progress novel or work of art to be recycled, make arrangements for them. A little forethought can make the difference between thrown out and treasured. You may love to procrastinate, but isn’t the elated feeling of getting things done worth the effort to start your end-of-life planning now?

Check-Out’s Taking Stock workspace helps you do just that by breaking the potentially overwhelming task into easy steps. You can also print the Pre-Planning Worksheet and identify and number all your favorite items. This is planning made easy, and who doesn’t love easy?

Along with planning comes organizing, whether documents, homes or end-of-life requests. When we plan and organize, we declutter our spaces, lives and minds, the need to create clear plans and achieve a sense of order is innate, and hugely liberating. Your loved ones will be grateful for a detailed CheckOutPlan when they’re dealing with everything you’ve left behind. The Marie Kondo tidying craze of sparking joy has gained fans around the world for a reason, planning and organizing diminish stress and provide the feel-good factor.

A grand finale

No one likes to talk about that intimidating D word: Death. But end-of-life planning is a necessity best not ignored. By being proactive, you can communicate your last wishes with your loved ones after you’ve departed and ensure that they will be carried out. Have a definitive plan, and don’t leave loved ones scrambling, stressed and uncertain. And who doesn’t love to have the final say? You can even have the final word after you’ve said goodbye by visiting the Having “The Talk” section of Check-Out to write your Just-in-Case letter or write your own eulogy using the pre-written content, ready for you to edit.

Check-Out provides an easy to use, step-by-step secure website that is comprised of seven workspaces to help you create a thorough end-of-life plan, and it can be updated and shared with your team members anytime. If you don’t know where to begin, Check-Out will help and make planning easy, and even entertaining. After-all, it’s all about you.

Think of your Check-Out Plan as a roadmap or a supportive guiding hand to assist you in creating a digital archive of all the important things your loved ones need to know about you and your end-of-life wishes. Enjoy the planning process, instead of procrastinating and dreading it… or even worse, avoiding it all together. Build your plan and rest easy knowing your wishes will be carried out and both you and the things that matter to you most will be remembered and cherished.

Check-Out helps families plan their end-of-life events, store their memories and more. Enjoy a 7-day free trial and discover how easy and rewarding it is to lead the conversation about mortality. Build a thoughtful plan and share memories that will support family and friends, just when they need it most.

Visit to discover how today.

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