In my professional life I have spent a lot of time encouraging people to plan more. Planning is a good thing. Planning helps you to set direction and to prioritise. It simplifies decision making. In teams, planning helps you to get everyone on the same page. What could possibly go wrong? Well, frankly, it all goes a little bit pear shaped when planning becomes procrastination.
Procrastination involves putting off or avoiding a task that needs to be done. The problem is that it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that, by planning the task properly, we are actually taking steps towards doing it.
Take, for example, the teenager who spends days devising a comprehensive (and very beautiful) revision timetable, only to discover that there is no time left to revise. Or the woman who repeatedly re-writes her to-do list, frantically adding last week’s unfinished actions to this week’s plan. Or the mother, who sits amongst the ruins of her home reading books on how to de-clutter and create zen-like calm. Meanwhile, the kids continue to wreak havoc all around her.
If you recognise any of this, then I hate to tell you, but you are most definitely procrastinating.
I am working with a super-organised client at the moment. She recently started a new job and was finding it difficult to get her team to be more productive. In an attempt to address the problem she introduced them to the Trello Board so that they could monitor the team objectives, see each other’s workload and keep tabs on shared projects. Now she has a team that enthusiastically creates vibrant, informative Trello Boards. But they still don’t get things done. Instead of motivating them to take action, she has given them a new way to procrastinate.
It doesn’t matter how you plan. Whether you use pen and paper, post-its, spreadsheets or bespoke software is irrelevant if you are still planning when you should be taking action.
When planning becomes procrastination it is time to stop thinking and start doing.