What Is the Planning Fallacy and How To Beat It Down (9 Useful Tips)
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The Planning Fallacy is a prediction error that one repeatedly makes, misestimating the time it takes to complete a certain task.
This usually happens when trying to complete an unpleasant or stressful task, leading to postponement, procrastination and eventually missed deadlines.
We assume we have more time than we really do, and we will get the job done quickly. Tasks like filing one’s tax return, catching a plane, investing in one’s health and other life demands become difficult with this basic assumption.
The planning fallacy affects our work satisfaction and health, leading to stress and burnout.
Things usually do not happen as we expect them to be. Our inner view of things (our cognitive bias) is shattered with unexpected obstacles, delays and interruptions.
Instead of relying on your own subjectivity and frame of reference, check out your previous experiences and take an external view of things, which may be more realistic.
"What can go wrong, will go wrong".— Murphy’s Law
Applying a pessimistic approach to work makes us curb our enthusiasm and work more realistically. We will ditch the cheery outlook and work on meeting the deadlines, prioritizing what’s important while leaving out the fluff.
If we can avoid the urgent tasks and focus on important ones, we can take care of our long-term goals.
Many small, mindless, menial tasks seem important and urgent to us, as they provide us with a rush of accomplishment. Answering a phone call or an email demand quick and immediate action and provide an illusion of urgency, even though they may be trivial.
Time isn’t our enemy and we can work with time to maximize our productivity. The Pomodoro technique teaches us to work in short focused time slots of 20 to 40 minutes, and then give yourself a break.
You can chop long and complex tasks into manageable chunks of activity, and keep yourself away from urgent but unimportant tasks.
People around us want our time and attention, which is increasingly precious and scarce.
Gossiping or unwanted chatting eats away from our work without us even realizing it. If we say ‘no’ to the time bullies that surround us, people may not like it initially but will learn to respect your time.
Our original plans and goals sometimes become the cognitive biases that do not let us work on a daily basis. They anchor themselves in our brain from the time we decided to set the goal. Our initial predictions, expectations or assessments may not be accurate and may need major or minor tweaks.
We need to focus on the current situation in a realistic manner and understand that every day is new.
The workplace is a competitive zone, and enthusiastic workers take an unfair lead even though their plans are unrealistic and overly optimistic.
You don’t need to succumb to the pressure, once you understand how the planning fallacy works. The outcome will provide clarity to all.
Asking for an opinion from someone who is not neck-deep in cognitive biases due to being too close to the subject matter may be an eye opener.
Asking for open and honest feedback will provide you with valuable insights and direction.
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The older I get, the more I realize what really matters in life.
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