5 Mistakes People Make When Planning

planning productivity Jun 28, 2021
5 Mistakes People Make When Planning

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I'm talking about five mistakes you are making when it comes to your planning.

Number one, not planning.

Have you ever been guilty of saying, "I wonder why I'm not getting stuff done?" Could it be you're not planning? I'm always telling people to "tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went". You need to plan instead of operating in reactive mode.

I remember when I was growing up there was a carnival game called Whac-A-Mole. There was a board that had all these holes in it. You're given a cloth mallet and as the game started, a mole would pop up from one hole that you'd have to whack it. And then another mole would pop up on another hole and you'd whack that. The longer you played the game, the faster the moles would pop up (and go down). It wasn't long before you looked like a lunatic as you tried to whack all these moles.

A lot of people approach planning like a Whac-A-Mole game. They're reactive. They're just going to wherever the noise is. Don't do this. Make sure you plan.

Number two, keeping your plan in your head.

I think the only thing worse than not planning is planning in your head. Your brain can only remember so many things. I don't know what that number is which is not important because it can't remember everything.

Don't tell me you know what you have to do tomorrow. That you have everything in your head. What happens when (not if) you have to rearrange your schedule? You're going to try to keep all the changes in your head? Not a good idea.

Number three, over planning or you're not letting your plan breathe.

I would never schedule every minute of every day. And I'm a big planner. But I don't schedule every minute, every day.

What I mean is I don't schedule 8-9, 9-10, 10-11, 11-12 each day. Instead, I may schedule from 8-8:45 and then 9-9:45. Or maybe from 8-9:30 and then 10-11:30. Why? You need to have a little breathing room in there because calls will start late. When they start late, they may run over. Or you may get distracted when someone comes in your office or when the power goes out. Life will happen. If you don't block out that time to allow a call to run over, then if you have your schedule set for every minute of every day, what do you do when your eight o'clock appointment runs 10 minutes over? Allow some room in your calendar because life is going to happen. I know you don't think it's going to, but it is definitely going to happen.

Number four, you're either over or underestimating how long something takes you.

I had a client a few years ago that used to do a lot of writing. When I finally got her to accept that she needs to tell her time where to go instead of wondering where it went, she started planning, which was great. Except she didn't realize how long she spent writing.

She would allocate an hour for writing and then she would tell me on our next call and say, "It didn't work." I replied, "What do you mean it didn't work it didn't work." She said she planned her day but didn't have enough time.

After I thought about it for a moment, I asked her, "How long do you write for?" She told me three hours. While she did plan for writing, she only allocated an hour. There was the problem. You can't put three pounds of potatoes on the one-pound bag. She underestimated how much time was she going to need.

But the converse could also be true. You could OVERestimate.

The best way to combat over and under-estimating how long something takes is to make sure your plan reflects reality. For example, let's say you schedule to write from 8-9. But you notice on Monday, you write for 90 minutes. And on Tuesday, you write for 90 minutes. And on Wednesday, you write for 90 minutes. Maybe you just start allocating 90 minutes for writing instead of an hour. Does that make sense?

The fifth mistake people make when it comes to planning is getting too fancy.

Let me give an example. Let's say you're a creative person, and you're not content with putting events on your calendar using simple words. You have to go get a notebook emoji or a picture of a notepad or a picture of a pencil. You're getting too fancy.

I'm all for colored calendars but when you have so many different types of calendars and so many different colors, it can create confusion. Which can lead to procrastination. Keep it simple.


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