One of the key tools of productivity is planning. Planning can help you overcome difficult tasks, outline your goals, and keep you on course to achieve those goals. When done properly, it can simplify your life and drastically reduce stress. However, you must be careful not to take it to the extreme.
Some people become so comfortable while planning that it keeps them from actually taking action. They want to create the perfect plan that will hold up in any situation, no matter what unexpected event occurs. Unfortunately, this is not possible, and can turn into a huge time waster. Planning becomes just another way to procrastinate, instead of doing what is necessary to accomplish our goals.
There are many reasons why we get trapped in the planning stage. Some are scared of the unpredictability that comes with execution. What if something comes up that we aren’t prepared for? We feel that if we just plan some more, we will be more prepared to handle the outcome. The reality is there will always be unexpected challenges we have to deal with when executing any plan of action.
Another reason we may over-plan is because we are dreading the overwhelming amount of work we have ahead of us. Without proper planning and scheduling, long-term goals can seem impossible to achieve. This mountain of work becomes a mental barrier to overcome before taking action, which results in us staying in the more comfortable stage of planning.
An effective method of combating over-planning is to dive right into action. Take whatever plans you have now, and use them to start executing. Consider this analogy of trying to move a heavy boulder. Some initial planning will be effective, as you would want to find the easiest and most efficient path of rolling it. However, all the planning in the world won’t move the boulder. You have to physically take action to get it rolling. Once you start moving it, it will build momentum and become easier to keep rolling. You can adjust your efforts accordingly as it rolls, but if you stop for too long to plan, it will require the same initial force to get it going again.
The same principles can be applied to your goals. Once you have an initial plan, start implementing it. Taking action builds momentum, making it easier for you to keep going. You can adjust your plans based on the results, but don’t spend too much time planning unless you feel you aren’t making progress toward your objective. If this is the case, you may need to scrap your initial plan and start over. Until you actually put your plans into action, you will never know which ones are effective, and which ones aren’t.
Take Action Now: Consider a goal you have failed to take action on due to over-planning. Start executing based on the plans you currently have. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect; you should still see some progress toward your goal, which will help you reevaluate your plans and adjust them accordingly. Most importantly, making some progress will help build your motivation to complete your goal.
Summary: While planning has many benefits, over-planning can keep us from ever achieving our goals. To keep from falling into this trap, take action toward your goal immediately, using the plans that you already have. Even if they aren’t perfect, you will still make more progress than you did while over-planning.