The Surprising Link Between Planning and Procrastination


planning-and-procrastinationWhen it comes to procrastination, planning can be the solution or the obstacle. Managing your time sometimes helps you to stop putting things off. On the other hand, if you have trouble moving beyond the planning stage, you may wind up bogged down in analysis paralysis.

Maybe you already have signs of over-planning in your life. You read the latest bestselling diet books, but put off cutting calories and going to the gym. You want to start a business, but you do so much research that conditions change before you’re ready to launch.

Learn how to turn your dreams into reality. Use these tips to help you move from thinking to doing.

Tackling the Underlying Causes of Excess Planning:

1. Accept uncertainty. It’s impossible to predict the future. Embracing change is more effective than resisting it. Being adaptable creates more security than trying to rely on a false sense of control.

2. Make an effort. Talking about something usually requires less energy than actually doing it. On the other hand, you’re going to have to put down the how-to books and pick up a hammer if you want to renovate your kitchen.

3. Learn from experience. There’s no reason to fear mistakes when you turn them into lessons on what to do next time. You’re making progress regardless of the immediate outcomes.

4. Look at the big picture. Planning goes awry if you start obsessing about small details. Take a step back and focus on your major goals.

5. Live in the present. While it’s helpful to imagine how your actions will affect your future self, you can miss out on life if you ignore the here and now. Live mindfully and celebrate where you are today.

6. Build up your confidence. Doubting your abilities can cause procrastination. Use your self-talk to motivate yourself. Remind yourself of your past accomplishments and choose activities that leverage your personal strengths.

Practical Strategies to Fight Excess Planning:

1. Set a time limit. Decide in advance how long you’ll spend on planning. Take 10 or 15 minutes to map out your day instead of letting it consume much of your morning.

2. Proceed in reverse. When you arrange a wedding or a dinner party, you probably work backwards from the final date. Apply the same strategy to other projects to keep yourself on track.

3. Break things down. Studying Russian or preparing your taxes is less daunting when you identify the individual tasks involved. Cut monster projects down to size.

4. Take a first step. Pick out at least one thing you can do today. Look for something that’s feasible in terms of your current resources. Ensure you can live with the level of risk involved.

5. Enlist support. You can accomplish more when you team up with others. Surround yourself with colleagues and loved ones who encourage you and give you valuable feedback. Seek out a partner who complements your workstyle.

6. Review your progress. Midcourse adjustments increase your chances of ultimate success. Develop milestones and target dates when you’ll evaluate your performance and refine your plans.

7. Be flexible. True fulfilment has more to do with spending your time engaged in meaningful activities rather than sticking to any rigid plan. Keep your purpose and core values in sight.

Make planning work to your advantage. While there are many good reasons to think before taking action, you need to do something if you’re going to reach your goals. Let your plans give you a sense of direction instead of holding you back.

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