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The Boring (and Vastly Underrated) Art of Planning | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/12/07/planning/

scotthyoung.com

The Boring (and Vastly Underrated) Art of Planning | Scott H Young
Planning isn't sexy. But it's also one of the most undervalued tools for success. Here's how to do it better.

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Planning Is Extremely Valuable

Planning Is Extremely Valuable

Most people tend to be overly optimistic planners, but then the projects take much longer and more effort than initially thought.

Our inability at planning shows in how we tend to choose immediate over long-term rewards. Life is also complicated and what we need to do to have a better future is more complex. For example, to advance a career, you may need to acquire skills, apply for new jobs, or complete key projects. Each one requires considerable planning.

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The 10% Rule: Becoming A Better Planner

The 10% rule states that you should spend roughly 10% of the total time you anticipate for a project on planning the project. The time spent planning is often the most valuable.

At first, set aside more time for planning. Force yourself to map out the path ahead instead of just doing.

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Planning: Map Out Everything You Need to Do

Break down everything you need to do to enable you to move forward on a project. Success requires a plan way more granular than most people make it.

For example, if your project is writing a novel, ask yourself what you're trying to do. Are you trying to reach out to a publisher, self-publish, or is it just for practice? How will you structure the story? Define the main plot? Fill out the character backgrounds?

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Put the Plan in Your Calendar

With a map drawn, the next step is your itinerary. When you will start, how many days a week you will work and when you expect to reach key milestones.

Put everything in your calendar. Many people fail to realize how many other tasks might interfere with their project, such as an upcoming vacation or other deadlines. Scheduling it can also prepare you psychologically. For example, knowing that you will have to dedicate your evenings to a project for the next six months.

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Translate Your Plan Into Your Daily Actions

Planning should tell you what you need to do for today. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Today.

A step further is to commit to particular hours of the day. For example, I will exercise right after I finish work, before dinner.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Goal-Setting

Any goal or project will usually have these basic qualities:

  • A general ambition or motivation. (e.g. learn French)
  • A specific target. (e.g.  speak fluently)

Goals To Start In The Middle

When a goal has high uncertainty as to what level is achievable to reach within a particular time-frame, it is better to set specific targets in the middle of the process.

Plan your goals with the variables you do have: overall direction, time-frame, level of effort and strategies.

Reasons To Postpone Goal-Setting

  • Uncertain goals should be set in the middle. This will enable you to set the correct challenge level to maximize effort.
  • Some research shows that for very complex tasks, goal-setting can hinder effectiveness. This is because complex tasks are cognitively demanding in the beginning and can be frustrating because you can't perform adequately. To add on more tasks can impair your performance.

Spare capacity and growth

Spare capacity and growth
  • Avoid thinking of spare capacity as the lack of things on your calendar. Since we’re never really doing nothing it’s rare to see people talk about cultivating it directly.
  • The amo...

Factors that determine spare capacity

  • How much effort/time is needed to sustain your current lifestyle.
  • How ambitious you are.
  • Material circumstances. Wealth, unsurprisingly, gives capacity.
  • Work flexibility.
  • Family and relationship obligations.
  • How many things are non-negotiable for you.

We All Tend To Make The Same Mental Mistakes

We All Tend To Make The Same Mental Mistakes

Economists used to believe that people will always choose the option that maximizes their well-being. But people act against their rational self-interest all the time.

We p...

The Mere Urgency Effect

This bias addresses why we do unimportant tasks we think are time-sensitive over tasks that are not time-sensitive, even if the non-time-sensitive tasks provide greater rewards.

How to overcome this bias:

  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix. It will reveal the urgent/not urgent and important/not important tasks.
  • Block off on your calendar the most productive 2-4 hours each day for your most important work.
  • Only answer emails at specific times. Don't allow email to bleed into other time.
  • Give your important tasks a deadline and find a way to commit to it.

The Zeigarnik Effect

This effect describes our tendency to remember incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Each unfinished task takes up some of your attention, splitting your focus. It also interferes with your sleep.

What you can do about it:

  • Write your tasks down as soon as they come to you.
  • Have a system in place for organizing and regularly reviewing your tasks.
  • Have an end of work shutdown ritual, so your unfinished tasks don't stay in your mind after-hours.
  • Take a small step to help you get started. The act of starting can help you keep going to the end.
  • Don't forget to review your completed tasks and celebrate what you've already accomplished.