5 Mistakes People Make When Planning

planning productivity Jun 28, 2021

Are you making these five mistakes when you tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went?

If so, know that you're not alone. Many people do.

But fear not! I've got your back!

Mistake #1: Not Planning.

Have you ever failed to get something done? Was it planned? You are operating in PROactive mode instead of REactive mode when you plan.

There's a classic carnival game called Whac-A-Mole. This is how it is described on Wikipedia: "A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a waist-level cabinet with a play area and display screen, and a large, soft, black mallet. Five holes in the play area top are filled with small, plastic, cartoonish moles, which pop up at random. Points are scored by whacking each mole as it appears. The faster the reaction, the higher the score." 

The longer the game went on, the faster the moles would pop up (and go down). It wasn't long before you looked like a lunatic as you attempted to whack all the moles.

A lot of people approach their planning like the Whac-A-Mole game. They're REactive, just going to wherever the noise is. Avoid doing this. Instead, have a plan.

Mistake #2: Keeping Your Plan in Your Head.

The only thing worse than not planning is keeping your plan in your head. Your brain can only remember so many things.

What happens when (not if) you have to rearrange your schedule because something happens? Don't try to keep all the changes in your head.

Mistake #3: Overplanning (Failing to Let your Plan Breathe).

I consider myself a planner, and I never schedule every minute of my day. 

Why? Life happens. Calls will start late, and they will run over. That project will take you longer than you think. The Internet or power will go out. 

If you don't allow time for that call to run over, what will you do when it does? Allow some breathing room in your calendar for these when these things happen.

Mistake #4: You're Either Over or UInderestimating 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 them to accept that they needed to tell their time where to go instead of wondering where it went, they started planning, which was great. Except they didn't realize how long they spent writing.

They would allocate an hour for writing, and then they 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?" They said they planned their day but didn't have enough time.

After thinking about it for a moment, I asked them, "How long do you write for?" They told me three hours. While they did plan for writing, they only allocated an hour, and there was the problem. You can't put three hours' worth of work into one hour! They underestimated how much time they were 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 75 minutes. And on Wednesday, you write for 80 minutes. I would plan for the highest number - 90 minutes given these numbers. Even better, plan for 120 minutes. If you finish early, you "found" time!

Mistake #5: Getting Too Fancy.

You're a creative person, and you're not content with putting events on your calendar using simple words. You have to find a notebook emoji or a picture of a notepad or a pencil. This is getting too fancy.

I'm all for colored calendars and whatnot. Still, when you complicate planning by having so many different types of calendars and colors, it can create confusion. Which can lead to procrastination. Please keep it simple.

How many of these mistakes are you making?

Which of the five are you going to correct starting today?

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