Planning vs Performing: How to Find the Best Ratio

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. – Alan Lakein

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”P” font=”Dancing Script” background_color_class=”otw-blue-background” size=”large” border=”border” border_color_class=”otw-silver-border” shadow=”shadow”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]lanning everything you need to do may take longer than actually doing it. Even the most organized people sometimes fall down a rabbit hole of creating structures and mapping logistics at the expense of reaching their full potential of productivity.

Planning and performing are both necessary, and the ratios of both actions will vary from situation to situation. Balance is about finding how much of each will lead you to an ideal outcome.

Building a System That Runs Itself

The best systems need little intervention to work successfully. Your planning, idea mapping, and scheduling systems need to be easy to use. If you’re fumbling through methods of envisioning, starting, or projecting an idea into reality, you need a system you can rely on. Many people like to plan on whiteboards, as whiteboards are large, versatile, and easy to modify. Roll from idea to idea, erase the problem areas, and fill them in with new ideas. Create a map of your plan, take a photo, print it out, and use it as your guide to the next steps.

Some people prefer bullet journaling for long form planning. If there are many moving parts in your strategy, utilizing a bullet journal method where tasks are ordered and detailed will give you a quick frame of reference that allows you to grasp multiple variables simultaneously. Alternatively, a Kanban approach may serve the same purpose.

Connecting Your Tasks

It’s worth it to spend a little more time planning if it means that you can run a bunch of tasks concurrent to each other, or arrange them in a way that allows for the least amount of wasted time. Think of effective planning as the perfect road trip where you find every gas station right before you’re on empty. Connecting tasks will allow you to spend less time waiting and more times getting things done.

Unlike normal multitasking, connecting your tasks locks you into one path. You’re never dividing your attention or forgetting about important details, because they’re already a part of the plan. Weave every detail of a project into to plan of your main quests, rather than allowing them to become side quests or chores of lesser importance. It’s all a matter off efficient priotizing.

Factoring in Spontaneity and Practical Experience

Spending too much time planning can be the downfall of a project when important, un-plannable variables come into play. Spontaneity and practical experience will always play a role in the completion of a project. For example, it may only take you a couple hours to complete a document that may take others days. If you’ve done the same thing hundreds of times, there’s no sense in planning it in a way that suggests it’s new to you. Your level of comfort reduces the amount of effort and research the task will take.

Spontaneity is, obviously, spontaneous. You can’t always assume everything is going to work out the way it will on paper. In the process of completing a project, someone may need to take an unplanned trip that will affect their ability to hold up their end of the bargain. No amount of planning can account for unknowns. There comes a point where planning everything outside of fixed milestones is slightly unwise. Developing your ability to act in the moment and be versatile is ultimately what will allow you to complete a project, no matter how thorough your plans seem to be.

Every project will require some planning and some action. The amount of planning and action depend largely on the kind of project and the best approach. Just remember to leave yourself enough wiggle room and to plan as you go when possible.


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