Unlike driving, flying isn't as simple as hopping in and enjoying the view as for every minute of flight, especially IFR, I tend spend the same amount of time planning the night before!
As trainee pilots we're expected to plan our route and collect the associated track, distance and minimum safe altitude information from the airway chart (as on my pinboard). This is then written on our paperwork for reference in the air. By taking a look at the forecast weather we can begin to make assumptions about the runways in use, and thus start to familiarise ourselves with associated arrival, approach and departure procedures. Prior familiarisation prevents confusion in the air, especially if the airport is new to us and leads to spare capacity for any in-air work.
Once we're happy with everything we can begin to draft flight plans which will later be electronically submitted to the air traffic control services. The very existence of flight plans provides advance notification of our intentions to controllers of both airspace and airports and enables them to provide adequate spacing between all traffic in their remit and lets them know our intentions.
On the day of our flight we re-check the weather prior to departure to see if we're actually able to go. In case of questionable weather we tend to have more than one route up our sleeve (as per this video) and can then submit the correct flight plan, account for drift in our tracking over the ground and have an idea of our groundspeed and associated ETAs.
All in all, prior planning prevents poor performance. There's certainly a lot to flying. Wouldn't change it for the world though.