Is Planning Making You Less Productive?

Quick question…how much time do you spend planning and organizing your day and projects, as opposed to actually being productive and working on important tasks and action items? When I take time to read all the advice out there on planning, organizing, etc., it makes me realize that it’s possible to spend 2 hours a day planning as opposed to spending 15 minutes planning and 1 hour 45 minutes being productive.

An easy way to diagnose this? Turn on the Screen Time feature on your iPhone, or Digital Wellbeing on Android, and after 1 week look and see how much time you spent in your planning apps, vs. productivity/work related apps. I did this and realized that I spent way too much time planning. So…I made a list of all of my projects…and then deleted them and all their details, so I had to start over with a simpler system. Maybe that shocks you…but it was refreshing and helpful for me!

There is a massive amount of advice out there on the best ways to plan and organize your day (GTD, Pomodoro, etc). It’s imperative to plan, but it is more important to realize what the point of planning is…to help you accomplish more and be more productive.

The best system is one that works for you. Like EVERYTHING in life, it’s important to take bits and pieces from multiple sources and then create a system that works for you. I think that GTD (Getting Things Done) has some really important points to follow, namely keeping lists of projects. However, for me, I find that trying to operate based on context gets overwhelming. I find that Pomodoro has some great practices because it forces focus and uni-tasking. In fact, I use the app BeFocused Pro every day to time my work tasks to stay focused. 

So here is what I have now been using, and it allows me to spend 15 minutes planning, and much more time being productive!

  1. I broke down my task list by areas of responsibility, and instead of having 86 projects (that is what I had previously), I have a few areas of responsibility with a list of next actions under each. I realized that I was using my project list as a glorified note taking system. Now, I am taking notes on projects but not keeping each point as a task. If I need to jog my memory, I can reference my notes and keep these details out of my system.
  2. I have 1 Task List for One-Off items or repeating tasks, so that these items don’t get overly analyzed and put in to my projects.
  3. I take time in the morning to write down my goals and my main focus for the day, and allow that to drive my activity. It allows me to use my task management system as a reference, and not as what controls my day.

I’m interested in hearing what you find out about how much time you spend planning v being productive…and what you do to adapt your system! Please leave comments below!

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