It is very tempting to simply grab your binoculars or telescope on the first clear evening after long weeks of cloudy nights and rush out onto the field (perhaps even with a small star map, if there is enough time), and start observing. If you act this way, the joy will not last long, because then you‘ll always look at the same objects which you already know, and you probably will not discover anything new – or you will have no clue of what you are looking at. Therefore, a little preparation is useful, even if you just want to look around a bit.
Long-term observation plans are also useful to keep your motivation high – no matter if you want to see as many Messier objects as possible, or if you‘d rather estimate the brightness of variable stars, thus making a small contribution to science. In addition, many visually rather unspectacular objects appear much more impressive when you know what you are actually looking at.