Action Paralysis: Why you're good at planning but still unproductive

May 5, 2020 • ☕️ 2 min read

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I love to plan things out. I like creating lists of tasks, setting unrealistic deadlines, creating Kanban boards - The whole deal. It gives me a push.
But there’s a lot going on between a plan of the work and the work of a plan.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail — Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been in the pit of over-planning myself and I’ve learned a few things about how not to fall in it again. These are the three things I try to remember every time I find myself in such a situation.

Planning is not a substitute for work

And never will be. It’s very easy to fall into this trap. We feel accomplished when we plan things out. But remember, you don’t have anything to show for your work till you put in the hours.

You can’t build up a reputation on what you are going to do. — Henry Ford

The building blocks of your work is effort. Always have and always will. No amount of planning can ever substitute that.

The time spent planning is time spent not working

I sometimes start the work with the incomplete/imperfect plan, because I know that my plan might change depending on the work I do. Though this is not the very best practice to follow, I know. But hey, it helps me.

As Tim Ferriss says, “the decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit.”

It helps me to reinforce the idea that planning things out is not the job I’m expected to do or hired to do. I’m here to get things done.

So do I need to plan about how to plan?

Any plan is good, as long as you work according to it. Every plan is terrible if you don’t put in the work.

As an example: there are hundreds of ‘30 day challenges’ on the tips of your fingers. For fitness, habits, productivity, etc. Just one google search away And here’s the punch line: They all work(mostly).

But most of the people following them don’t get the results. They try, get bored, and then complain. Its because they didn’t actually follow them. If they had they must have learned something. In the worst-case scenario, they must have at least learned that the plan is shit and they have to work with something smarter/better the next time. But they can’t follow it through, can’t see the results, blame everything on the plan they picked up and try to start over.

Sticking to the plan is more important than having a good or a bad plan.

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"Be so good they can't ignore you." - Steve Martin