Your Plan Sucks.

The ice berg principle of productivity

Over the years, I’ve found some very creative ways to procrastinate. Cleaning, checking social media, YouTube, making some more coffee, and dozens more. My favorite two, though, are planning and researching.

I LOVE to plan, and I LOOOVE to research. If I’m faced with a new project or deadline, I run straight for a notebook to write out a plan, and I start reading, watching, and listening to as much information as I can on the subject. These are good things, until…

Until that’s all I did today. Until I’m reading ANOTHER book on the subject. Until the video I just watched barely has anything to do with the project I’m working on. Until my deadline is almost here, and all I’ve got is a bunch of information and plans on how I would complete this project, if I had started yet. The sneakiest part about these things is they feel productive, yet I have nothing to really show for my “work”.

Is this you, too? If not, stop reading, you are way better than me at this, and what I’m about to say probably won’t help you. If so, then this next bit may help.

A tool I’ve used to combat this bad habit comes from the idea of an ice burg.

As a general rule, whenever we happen to be sailing in the Arctic or Antarctic oceans and spot an ice burg, what we see is a very small percentage of what the ice burg really is.

The ice burg is your project. Your paper. Your presentation. When we start off, all we can possible hope to see is a very small percentage of our project. So when we make our perfect plan, we can assume that it was made using only about 2% of the information. We don’t know the issues that will come up. The better ideas we will have later on. The person that gives a crucial insight. These are completely unpredictable, and we can’t plan for them at the start, yet we can keep in mind that they will come.

The point of all this? Just start. Make a plan, sure, but know that this first draft sucks. How could it not? We barely know anything about our project in the beginning. Just go with your first instinct and call it good. We will learn more along the way and adjust. I would have been 10x better off on past projects had I started way sooner with my first, crappy plan, than with my 13th, still crappy, plan.

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