218 Planning as a Form of Procrastination

Planning as a Form of Procrastination


Have you ever thought that all your planning could actually be a sneaky form of procrastination? In this episode, I dive into the heart of the issue, focusing on two prime suspects: fear and perfectionism. I'll delve into how the fear of an uncertain outcome and the quest for the 'perfect' plan often freezes us in our tracks. Yet, ironically, we still feel accomplished because planning in itself creates a sense of control and productivity.

Tune into this episode to learn about:

  • The concept of planning as a form of procrastination
  • Reasons for planning procrastination
  • Overcoming planning procrastination

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Everyone, welcome back to the Work Life Harmony show. Now we have or I have talked about procrastination on this show a number of different times, but today I'm gonna be talking about a very specific form of procrastination, and it's kind of ironic, but planning as a form of procrastinating so interesting. Sit and think about that for a minute. Have you ever actually stayed in the state of planning, maybe for a really, really really long time to avoid the actual doing? So? That's what I'm gonna be talking about here today, so let's go ahead and jump in. Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity, so you can have work life harmony If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, @MeganSumrell, with the word harmony, and my team will send it right over. Hello there, welcome back to work life harmony.

I was recently asked a question by one of the top program students. The top program is my signature program, stands for time management, organization and productivity, and I host monthly live coaching calls there where people can come in, ask questions, et cetera. And a question came up that said and I'm paraphrasing here, but basically saying do you have any thoughts around planning as a form of procrastination, meaning people are saying, yeah, I plan, I plan, I replan, I replan again, but it's sometimes I think I'm doing it to avoid actually executing the plan. And I thought this was a fantastic question. So in the moment I said you know what, Let me do a little bit of research on that. I had my own thoughts, but whenever there's a question that I haven't really taken a deep dive on, I always like to go out and dig in a little bit, see what research is out there. Usually there's stuff related to brain science, et cetera, with it.

So that's what we're going to be talking about today, and a couple of things we're going to be covering are first, why do we plan as? Why do we use planning as a form of avoiding what we're actually doing? And there's usually two main reasons why, and then I want to break down each one of those. We can talk through that a little bit, and then, finally, I want to wrap it up by telling you what can you do to help yourself not use planning as a form of procrastination if you find that this is something that you would trap, that you fall into. So again, planning is a form of procrastination. When I talk about that, what I'm meaning is you will sit down and create the plan, but then you might be spending a ridiculous amount of time creating it, or you're recreating it and revisiting it over and over and over again as a form of avoiding doing the actual event or activity that you are planning You're trying to create the plan for in the first place. So why do we do this? There's typically two main reasons. Reason number one is an underlying fear or a feeling of uncertainty about how this execution of the plan is going to go. We're a little bit nervous or afraid to take that first step of getting into action, and there's a lot of reasons why we might be nervous or afraid. We'll talk about that in a few minutes. Now, the second reason and this is one that's super subtle I thought was really interesting is if you are someone that might consider yourself a perfectionist. Using planning as a form of procrastination is something that perfectionists can often fall into. So we've got these two reasons where we're afraid, or maybe we're battling perfectionism. So we're going to talk through each one of those Now.

First, let's understand why do people plan in the first place, and typically there's kind of three reasons why. You know, for someone that's like oh, I don't mind creating the plan, it's the execution that's a struggle. And some of the reasons why we say we enjoy the planning process is, first off, planning feels like we're in control. Right, I am a I Like to say, recovering control freak, although I think I still have, you know, a ways to go on that journey. But when I know, when I sit down to plan and when I talk to other people when they're planning, they're like oh yeah, this feels like I'm in control. I'm just, you know, I'm creating a plan, maybe I'm whiteboarding it, maybe I've got post-it notes everywhere where, maybe I'm using Trello, I'm brainstorming, I'm rearranging things like we are in control of that activity, so that that feels safe. Now, another reason why the planning part can feel good and so we keep planning and planning is Planning by itself feels productive.

It is a, it can be a productive activity, unless we allow it to go to the point where we're actually procrastinating. Boy, there's a lot of peace today, right? How many of you, when you sit down, maybe even to just create a list, the first thing you put on your list is make a list so that as soon as you're done, you can check something off. Right? So when we sit down to say, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna get a plan of attack for that, it feels like we are being very productive. So that feels good too. And then finally, that again that kind of dopamine hit of checking things off when we are creating a plan, because, especially if you're doing it like pencil to paper, a visual one, when your brain sees that, your brain goes, ah, this is good, I can visually see what we're gonna be doing and it's like you're just giving yourself that serotonin Dopamine again, it feels really good.

So this is why people will often say I don't mind the planning. Of course you don't. We feel like we're in control, we feel productive, we're getting a little dopamine hits along the way it's. We're like, look at me. But then when it turns into a form of avoidance, now it doesn't feel good, now we're not being productive and now our brain is not having that delightful dopamine hit right. So let's talk about that first reason around fear. So typically, if someone is avoiding doing something and it is a fear-based avoidance Oftentimes it can come from a I don't really know how to do this.

So maybe the plan is for something you've never done before. So you've done your research, you've created the plan. Then you're like, yeah, but I don't really know how. An example I can give with this that I see sometimes in my community is people learning new tech. So maybe you've been telling yourself a story your entire life of oh, I don't do tech, oh, I'm not tech savvy, oh I don't get tech, but yet there's this piece of software that maybe you want to learn, or something, a new app, right. And one of the things I share a lot in my community is Trello, because it's free and it's a great informational Organizational tool. Well, I will get women that will be like, oh, I haven't looked at it yet because I don't do tech. They'll create the plan of sitting down to watch a video. They'll have it all laid out.

But the underlying fear of jumping in is what if I'm not good at it? What if, when I sit down, it's hard right? What if I do it wrong? So the plan just keeps getting tweaked and re-altered because we're actually afraid Now kind of tied to that.

This other reason that we often use planning as a form of procrastination is maybe you are someone that struggles with perfectionism. This, thankfully. While I may still have a long way to go on my journey of liking to feel and control, I can say I have come a long way on my journey of letting go of perfectionism. And where this kind of fits into the picture is when you are sitting down to create a plan. The planning feels good, right, you are in control and you can create the most beautiful plan, but what might be going on in the back of your head is the execution of the plan might get a little messy. What if one of the things I plan to do takes longer than what I thought. What if I don't keep up with my schedule?

Now, there's some similarities here between the avoiding it because we're afraid versus avoiding it because we're perfectionism. There's still some, you know, perfectionism still has an element of fear, but it's a different type, it's more internal, of what if I do it wrong? What if my plan isn't perfect enough? Have I thought of every possible scenario that I need to build into my plan and so we can cycle and cycle and cycle over and over again with our plan because we want to make sure it's perfect? Now, when we're trying to maybe figure out for ourselves which bucket we fall into, here's some things I would want you to think about. If you find, hey, I don't mind doing the planning, it's the execution, ask yourself are you revisiting your plan over and over and over again, tweaking, refining, tweaking, refining? That might be a sign that you are avoiding it because of perfectionism. Whereas if you've created the plan but then you just keep moving, the okay, I'll start it next week, I'll start it next week, I'll start it next week You're not necessarily tweaking and revising your plan, you're just avoiding the starting. That might be one where it's just a fear-based you are. You're stepping into something that is uncomfortable. So what can we do to help prevent this?

Now, anytime you are sitting down to create a plan for something, I think it's really important to kind of flip the mirror onto yourself and ask yourself how do you feel as you are creating your plan. So, when you're sitting down to plan, is it energizing you? Is it making you feel good? Are you, as you're creating the plan, going? I am ready to jump into this. Chances are you probably are not going to end up in that procrastination. You know trap, right? When I sit down to do my weekly planning every single week, it energizes me, it feels good because I am excited to then go oh, I've got a plan of attack for the next week.

However, sometimes and even I fall victim to this if I am sitting down to plan something that I might be nervous about, instead of feeling excited, energized, you know, ready to get going, I might feel a little uncomfortable. I might feel a little nervous if I catch myself replanning something because I'm avoiding getting into action. I might be feeling a little guilty right, self-imposed guilt as I'm going, I still haven't started on this yet, right. So any time that you are engaged in a planning exercise, if you aren't feeling that energy, that excitement, like you're in flow as you're doing it, this is the time to take a step back. If you're feeling that you know uncomfortableness, maybe that feeling of guilt In the moment, I would encourage you to actually say these words out loud I am making this plan, but I am allowed to change it.

Because sometimes, when we're creating the plan, we think this is it, it's definitive. What I'm putting in place has to go exactly as I am, exactly as designed, and if not, I'm a failure. Because both of those, when we think about planning that way, it helps us tackle both that fear-based and that perfectionism. Because, if I approach planning as realizing, this is just an initial guide. This is not definitive. And I say out loud I am creating this plan to get into action, but I'm allowed to change it. What that can do on the fear side is to say, hey, I'm a little nervous about this. When I step foot into part one of my plan, I'm allowed to change it Because maybe something's harder than I thought, maybe it's easier than I thought, maybe it didn't go the way I wanted it to. Then, on the perfectionism side, we're reminding ourselves I don't have to get the plan perfect. It can be wrong and I am just creating a guide to help me follow. But if I need to change, that's 100 percent fine as well. Get comfortable, and this is why I mean I'll actually say the words out loud. It's even better if you can do it in front of a mirror, because then you are talking to yourself. I am creating this plan, but I'm allowed to change it Because that can help ease both the fears and the perfectionism as well.

Now, I always like to do planning on paper. It visually feels better for me. I like to be able to move things around. I like to lay stuff out. If you are a paper planner lover and at the time we are recording this and this podcast airs we're getting close to wrapping up the year this is the time of year when people are always looking for new planners. I would encourage you to go check out the top planner store.

We rolled out a whole new line of planners earlier this year. We now have two different sizes. If you're watching the video here, you can see we have a full size, that is, each page is 8.5 by 11, and then we have our mini, the small one, which is half that size. We have four different color binders. It is undated, so you can start it any time of the year without worrying about wasting paper, so you don't have to wait till January to start using your planner. Then, as far as the inserts, it is a three ring binder so you can just always come back and reorder inserts. We have one that of course, has some pink in it, but we also have a grayscale version for folks that maybe don't love pink as much as I do. But you feel free to go check that out over at thetopplaner.com and see if it might be a good fit for your planning needs as we move into 2024.

So, happy planning and happy avoiding the procrastination that you might be struggling with when you sit down to plan. I'll see you back here again next week. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google Play and download the Pink Bee app. It's one word, the Pink Bee. It is jam-packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review.

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