How to Stop Overplanning (Even If You’re a Planner)
If you’ve hung out with me for any length of time, you know I love a good weekly plan. Weekly planning is empowering and one of the key ways to achieve the work + life harmony we crave.
But as much as I love planning, I'm here to tell you that it is actually possible to overplan.
And today, I’m breaking down how to know if you’re overplanning, the most common ways I see this happening for women, and what you can do instead.
When Overplanning Usually Happens
There are two common ways I see women — particularly moms and entrepreneurs — overplan.
The first overplanning scenario often happens when you are new to weekly planning and have been operating in a daily task list mode for a long time.
You’ve just gotten started with weekly planning, and you're really leaning into creating intentional plans. And in your excitement to dive in, you accidentally swing the pendulum from one side all the way to the other and begin planning every second of every day.
The second overplanning scenario that most of us will experience at different points happens when we feel like things are spiraling out of control.
This could be because you’ve had a big schedule change, something new has entered your life, or something big has left it — whatever the situation, you are left feeling very out of control. And as a result, you start overplanning in an attempt to regain control again.
I know that this is something I have to be aware of and cautious about in my life because I’m very uncomfortable feeling out of control.
Signs of Overplanning
A hard truth about overplanning is that you may not always realize when you’re doing it, so here are some signs I want you to look out for.
The first sign that you’re overplanning happens when something unexpected pops up, it not only causes a plan or two to get off track but has a domino effect that messes up your entire week.
This sign of overplanning is actually the easiest one to spot because it has such a dramatic, visible effect. It could only take something as simple as an hour-long phone call happening when you were supposed to be doing another task for the rest of your week to be derailed.
You know you’re overplanning when this happens because your schedule has no wiggle room when a curveball is thrown into your day.
A second sign you’re overplanning happens when the act of just looking at your plans causes you anxiety and stress.
If you are looking at your weekly plan and already thinking I don't see any way this will actually all get done, or are wondering when you may actually have time to even use the restroom, then you are overplanning.
Of course, we all have weeks that are really full, but if every single week feels like this, you're definitely overplanning and likely overcommitting.
The third sign that you are overplanning is if you are constantly playing catch up.
If every Friday starts with all of the things leftover from Thursday, and then those Friday tasks continually bleed into your weekends or next week, you have too much on your weekly plans.
Strategies to Stop Overplanning
Now that you know what to look for as signs of overplanning, here are some tips to help you stop doing it.
Tip #1: Make sure that you have white space or open time in your days every single day.
You cannot book yourself from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed with tasks and being in motion.
It’s impossible to be at a doctor’s appointment from 10 am to 11 am, and then immediately in a work meeting from 11 am to noon. Because the minute one thing runs late or gets off track, it has a catastrophic domino effect that makes everything fall apart.
One of the steps in my advanced weekly planning is learning the right way to schedule in what I call buffer space or white space.
When you look at my weekly plan, it may look like every minute is accounted for, but a lot of the time blocks actually have that buffer space built in. And the amount that you plan in varies based on what stage of life that you are in.
Tip #2: After you've done your weekly planning, go back and look at it to identify how many things in your plan are actually a top priority.
If you have done a prioritization matrix, you know there are four quadrants and that quadrant one is urgent and important.
If the vast majority of your plans are all things sitting in quadrant one and you're never getting to focus on the things in quadrant two, that means that you are overplanning. And this is a sign that it's time for you to go back and reassess your priorities to get a realistic view of exactly how much time you have in your days.