Signs You're Over-Planning

Today we explore a concept with which I am personally far too familiar - over-planning. I am a Big Fan of scheming, lists, charts and planning in general, but there comes a time when action must be taken, and I sometimes find myself using 'planning' as an excuse to delay that action. Here are some of the telltale signs that I am (or you are) over-planning.

1. Not taking any action, at all
Planning and action need to work in tandem. You don't have to jump in blind, but there is always some sort of action you can take while you iron out other details. There is always something you can be doing, no matter what stage of the process you're at, so complete inaction is always a tell-tale sign that something is off.

2. Planning for August instead of acting on June
I'm all for planning ahead, but preferably once you've got the present locked down. No matter how much you plan for the future, those plans will come to nothing if you aren't acting on the plans you already have for now.

3. ACTING on August instead of June
I am definitely guilty of this, and it's ridiculous. Think along the lines of writing Christmas-themed blog posts when you haven't finished editing your photos from a trip in September yet. There are certain parts of different projects that seem more fun than others, and often it's the first few steps that are most draining, but there's no point writing chapter six for a book you're never actually going to start. It's absolutely fine to work ahead if the mood strikes you, but only if you're also working on whatever it is that you're actually meant to be.

4. Waiting for the right mood to strike
I am speaking directly to myself with this one, because I am such an emotion-driven person, and my motivation and energy levels fluctuate ridiculously. The facts of the matter, however, are A) you are almost never going to be in the perfect mood to do things and B) once you get started, you'll find that mood tends to create itself. Do you know how often I'm in the 'right mood' to get things done? Probably two hours out of every second day, always after 11pm. That is not an arrangement that is going to get me places very quickly.

5. Waiting for a certain date or day to start
I'm going to stop prefacing these with "me" because at this point I think we can all tell this is just an open letter to myself. New Years resolutions and the 1st of the month and Mondays are all great placebo motivation to get started on things, but don't put things off just because you'd rather wait til a day or date that appeals to you more. You will lose a lot of time this way, and all you're really doing is finding an excuse to procrastinate.

6. You have ten lists, but nothing on any of them is done
Yikes. Lists are both fab and necessary, but only if you're actually using them. Get started, or get rid of the lists, because either they're pointless lists or you are delaying action on some pretty important things.

7. Days are flying by
And not in a good way. In a sudden realisation, alarming "where is the time going?" kind of way.

8. Weeks are flying by
Even worse.

9. You feel a constant sense of panic & overwhelm
When I feel overwhelmed I make lists and I plan, but WHAT IF OVER-PLANNING IS THE REASON I AM FEELING OVERWHELMED? Do you know what the best antidote is for feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of all the work ahead of you? GETTING STARTED.

10. You repeatedly push things back (and it gives you a rush of endorphins)
We're talking about that same feeling of release you get when someone cancels the plans you didn't want to get out of bed for, except what you are really doing here is self-sabotage. Setting a date and then pushing it back, and then pushing that date back, and then pushing that date back may give you a sense of relief at first, but it'll catch up to you eventually and the more times you've done it the worse it'll be.

11. You're on your third version of the same plan
If you're replanning your replanned plan, chances are what you really need to do is act, because planning ain't working.

12. You expect everything to be perfect before you start
Dumb and unproductive and the reason I was not a multi-millionaire by age 17.

13. You expect everything to be perfect, full stop
Dumb and unproductive and the reason I am still not a multi-millionaire at age 26.
Guess what? The best way to make something perfect is to make it badly and then fix it later, not to PLAN FOREVER

14. You're doing lots of things that COULD be productive, but aren't what you need to do
We're talkin' cleaning. We're talkin' cooking. We're talkin' scrapbookin'. We're talkin' writing things that aren't the thing you need to be writing. We're talkin' arranging your instagram feed over and over until it progresses through various colours perfectly like a rainbow. We're talkin' talkin' to yourself like you're filming an imaginary youtube video. We're talkin' deciding to learn Latin. We're talkin' writing New Year's content in July. 

15. You're watching, reading about or observing other people's productivity instead of making headway of your own.
Learning from others and observing the methods of successful people is incredibly important, but the key is to remember that productivity by proxy is not real. Spending time absorbing other people's productivity isn't going to change your own situation at all unless you take action.

16. Focusing on big details and neglecting starting on smaller ones
Think planning the narrative arc of a five volume series instead of starting on the first scene of the book you're currently meant to be writing, or knowing exactly what kind of course you want to launch in a year's time but having no content planned for your social media this week.

17. You use needing to plan more as an excuse to put things off
If you're using 'not being ready' or 'I'll be better prepared later' as an excuse not to take step one, then you are over-planning as a means of procrastination. You won't ever feel 100% prepared. Just. Get. Started.

If you've identified with a few (or a lot) of these points, do not despair. There's an easy solution, and in my experience that tends to be tackling a few simpler tasks in quick succession to create momentum. Write down three things you can do right now that would make your life better - whether that's putting on a load of laundry, cleaning your room, replying to an email you've been ignoring or scheduling some instagram content - and get. them. done. Don't think about it, don't give yourself a choice, just start on one and don't stop and until all three are finished. Even if none of the things you've done are your Big Ticket Tasks, you've still made a start and you can use that sense of accomplishment to tackle bigger things. Planning is important and organisation is key, but never underestimate the power of just getting started.