Planning Kills Productivity

Planning is often a form of procrastination for me. Instead of accomplishing my goals I will use all the resources available to me to plan how I will get things done. I’ll pour over maps for future runs instead of getting outside and running. I’ll prep complex budgeting spreadsheets instead of focusing on work. I’ll fill out paperwork to start a business instead of creating value. I’ll make lists of all the things I want to try (yoga, martial arts, rock climbing, surfing, etc) instead of going out and doing them. The planning process will never end because perfection is unattainable. The time for action will never be perfect or, as Tim Ferriss’ says in 4-Hour Workweek:

“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.

I prep and I prep and I prep because it gives me the illusion of progress. But really, all the preparation is taking me further from my goals. Time and energy are wasted. Moments of my life are gone that I will never get back because I was planning instead of doing. The most amazing experiences of my life happened because I took action, not because I was prepared for it. Even when I did fully prepare for something the plans disintegrated almost instantly. It is like we used to say in the Army, “the enemy gets a vote”. There are outside, unforeseen forces that will throw a wrench into any plan, and the more specific the plan the more likely something will fuck it up and discourage you.

If I want to train for a marathon I am much more likely to hit my goals if I have “Run or bike every day” in my daily plan than if I have “Monday: 0845-0930hrs-Run 4 miles, Tuesday: 0810-0910hrs-Run 4.5 miles, Wednesday:….” because all it takes is one late morning or missed day and the house of cards falls. It is too precise, too fragile. General action is more powerful than specific plans.

I recognize this about me and I am striving to improve, and I think I have a system that is working pretty well for me. Hopefully, it will move me closer to my dream life.


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