Do You Need to Have a Plan to Be Productive?

Good plans, bad plans, and what to do instead of planning

Pretty. But helpful? Hmmmmm. | Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

I want planning to be a worthwhile use of my time. I want to be justified in making a plan, having a plan, carrying a planner around, getting upset when my plan gets derailed, and (continually) updating my plan.

I don’t want to admit that, often, planning is another form of procrastination.

When Having a Plan Is Helpful

  • When you make a good plan for important stuff, and
  • Stick to it, and
  • Would NOT have done the stuff without the plan.

Good Plans vs Bad Plans

I’ve learned, through multiple years of being something called a ‘productivity expert’ (I just call it getting sh*t done) that all plans are not equal.

What Is a Bad Plan?

There are two types of bad plans:

  1. A bad plan that is realistic, flexible, has few dependencies–in other words, has the elements of a good plan–but is focused on stuff that doesn’t matter to you.

Try This Simple Habit Instead of Planning

If you’re not sure of the difference between a good plan and a bad plan, it’s better to avoid planning altogether.

What Is a Good Plan?

Here are the traits of a good plan:

  1. A good plan includes buffer time.
  2. A good plan has few dependencies.
  3. A good plan is realistic.
  4. A good plan has a mix of flexibility and rigidity.

A Good Plan Is Focused

A good plan helps you protect and focus on the most important parts of your day.

A Good Plan Includes Buffer

If you don’t include buffer time in your day, you will end up behind schedule and frustrated.

A Good Plan Has Few Dependencies

Dependencies are weaknesses.

A Good Plan Is Realistic

If you’ve never written more than 500 words in one sitting, don’t plan on writing 2,000 words tomorrow between 1pm and 3pm.

A Good Plan Is Both Flexible and Rigid

Certain parts of your plan need to be inflexible.

Will You Follow Your Plan?

A plan is only as useful as your execution.

If planning is another form of procrastination, you’re better off skipping the plan. Get up and get started. Don’t plan: act.

If, on the other hands, you are willing to make a plan and the act on it, you can be more effective and feel pretty damn good at the end of the day.

Do You Need a Plan?

If you’re the kind of person who wakes up knowing what you want to do — and you mostly just get up and do it — skip the plan. You don’t need it.

Do This to Figure Out If You Need a Plan

Not sure if you need a plan?

  • Do you need more time and fewer obligations? A plan will not change that ratio. You need to say No to more and reclaim your time. Do that, then make a plan.
  • Do you need to figure out how to get started on a big task or project? A plan can help with that. Break down the big thing into pieces, then plan when and how you’ll tackle each piece.
  • Do you need to make a decision? A plan won’t bring you new information. Are you sure you need a plan? Try sitting still for 10 minutes instead. Or call a trusted friend and talk it out for 10 minutes.
  • Do you need to figure out what to include in your day? Sounds like a good use for a plan. Get to it!
  • Do you want to make sure your most important items get the time they deserve? A plan can help you define and protect that time. Plan it, do it, and stick to it.
  • It needs to be about what matters to me.

Life is an experiment | All this and more: |☠️ Sweary☠️

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store