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Why Overplanning Doesn’t Work And What Does Work Instead

Why Overplanning Doesn’t Work And What Does Work Instead

Making plans in your life is a key habit to have if you want to be successful. Plans give direction, and help you move forward in a meaningful way.

But what happens when you start overplanning? What does it even mean to overplan? It means you’re planning your life as if you lived in a movie. In a movie, you have complete control over every single variable, there are no unknowns. Everything happens the exact way it’s written in the script.

But that never happens in real life.

In reality, you can’t plan your life down to the minute and expect those plans to hold up. And trying to could cause more harm than good.

Overplanning is a pitfall that so many people make. But read on and you’ll find out what you should be doing instead to make sure your plans are ones that help, not hurt you.

Know What You Want and Work Backwards From There

You must have a big-picture, overall plan for your life. You have to think past where you’re heading right now, and start thinking about where you want to be in five years, ten years, twenty years.

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What are some major things you want to accomplish in your life?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Do you even want to be remembered?

You can’t wander through life without a real sense of purpose. Actually, I take that back. You absolutely can go through life without a real purpose, but who wants to live a purpose-less life? You want live a purposeful life.

Once you get really clear about what you want out of life and what your goals are, you can start working your way backwards to determine what you should be doing today. 

Start with your five-year goal, then ask yourself, “What do I need to do in the next year to get myself closer to my five-year goal?”

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Once you answer, ask yourself, “What do I need to do in the next three months to get myself closer to my one-year goal?”

Then you break that three-month goal down in to one month goals.

And then you work day by day on achieving that goal for month.

This is an extremely powerful exercise and I’ve used it myself to see significant progress in my life. But you can only benefit from this if you know what it is you want out of your life.

Don’t Sweat the Details

Now you’re at a point where you’ve made your plan and you know exactly where it is you want to go and what you want to accomplish, but noticed I stopped at the monthly goals. You know why?

Life is full of surprises and you’d have to be some sort of superhuman to accurately predict every single curveball life is going to throw at you.

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The only thing we can expect in life is that we can’t expect everything.

When you try to plan your day down to when you’ll use the restroom and what time you’ll brush your teeth, you’re setting yourself up for a struggle.

Such minute planning erases any chance you have of dealing with the unexpected.

And you know what happens to your psyche when you get caught off guard? You start doubting yourself. You lose confidence in your abilities. You start to question if what you’re trying to accomplish is even worth it. And eventually, you quit. I’ve been there before. Defeated. It’s not a pretty place to be, but it can be avoided by leaving a little room for the unexpected.

Take Action, and Take Notes

General Patton said it best: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

All that planning you did in the previous step is going to be a complete waste, unless you act on it. Consistent action is the only thing that’s going to take you from where you are right now to where it is you want to go.

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Regardless of what it is you’re trying to achieve—make more money, get a better job, find a spouse, improve your relationship, lose weight, it doesn’t matter—action is king.

A lot of people are hesitant to take action, usually for one reason. They’re afraid of failure.

Being afraid of failure is probably the worst thing you can do for yourself.

Look at any successful person and you’ll realize that their “success” is just a mountain of failures. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company. Colonel Sanders was denied 1,000 times before someone ever wanted his chicken recipe. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. The list goes on.

Failure is a necessary hurdle on the road to success.

You have to learn to embrace failure because it’s the best teacher you’ll ever find. When you find yourself about to face plant, realize it, and learn from. Dust yourself off and identify what went wrong. Identify what exactly lead to your failure. Then get really clear on what you’re going to do differently to make sure that failure doesn’t happen again.

Featured photo credit: origami_potato via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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