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The Perils of Overplanning

The Perils of Overplanning


    Often the most effective productivity comes not from thorough planning, but from a distinct lack of planning (or at least less planning.) This flies in the face of traditional best practices regarding productivity and an organization. It seems counter-intuitive on the face of it, but in many instances, planning can actually be damaging. We need to be clear that we are really talking about unnecessary planning or excessive planning.

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    There are many times when at least a modicum of planning is extremely necessary and highly beneficial. In addition, there are many situations where planning is required, demanded, mandated as in any business or career settings. However, as with everything, when taken to excess a good thing crosses the line into harmful, or at least wasteful.

    Planning perils

    Out of proportion planning: Sometimes we take longer to strategize and map out a plan than the actual time the project or task actually requires to complete. I suppose there are certain situations where this makes sense, as in the adage, “measure twice, cut once.” So if you’re a member of the bomb squad and your job is to defuse ticking time bombs, please take the time to plan even if the action only takes 30 seconds. However, for the vast majority of us who do not face such dire consequences, we have to determine, based on the importance, difficulty, or link of the project, how much planning is actually required or if planning is actually advisable at all.

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    Time wasting planning: We need to consider the overall picture of our available time. When we engage in excessive planning, we are using precious time that could possibly be used in a more valuable manner. Determine what time opportunity is lost and whether time spent planning is worth the trade off in the long run. Many times the answer is yes, because of effective planning can prevent more work or complications later on. However, at other times the answer is no, but the habit of planning has simply become part of our routine process.

    Procrastination planning: Occasionally, perhaps even frequently planning or over-planning can actually be a form of procrastination. We certainly appear to be responsible and organized, and efficient, but that’s a facade. In actuality, what we’re really doing is using planning as a way to justify deferring a task, by spending unnecessary time planning how to do the task instead of actually doing it. This is just sneaky procrastination disguised as prudence.

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    When planning is justified

    • When undertaking a project or task that hasn’t been done before planning may be necessary to determine the correct actions.
    • When the project is of a collaborative nature, planning is necessary for clarity of roles and accountability.
    • When the consequences of a misstep could be disastrous, planning is certainly justified.
    • When a project is extremely complex or is comprised of many steps or phases, effective planning can help ensure that each step or phase is completed in the appropriate order and according to its timetable.

    Effective and efficient planning is absolutely crucial to maximize productivity, organization, goal achievement, and success. The danger is in not being clear in regards to the amount of time and effort you should be spending on planning. Use your time and energy wisely and efficiently by being honest and realistic about how much planning is actually necessary.

    Exceptionally organized individuals need to be extremely wary of automatically clinging to their default habit of detailed planning. Planning can actually be an addiction for the naturally productive and organized among us. The best way to avoid falling into the over-planning trap is to determine the minimum amount of planning required, way the use of planning time against other available activities and then stop planning and start doing.

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    (Photo credit: Round Table Planning via Shutterstock)

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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