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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 May 7, 2021

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

    Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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    Relocate your alarm clock.

    Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

    Scrap the snooze.

    The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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    Change up your buzzer

    If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

    Make a puzzle

    If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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    Get into a routine

    Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

    Have a reason

    Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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    As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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