I love planning. I make a detailed plan for everything I want to do. These days, writing is my main focus so naturally, I made detailed plans for each of my writing projects. These plans include both writing and non-writing tasks I need to finish.
I ended up spending several days making such plans and even after that I am not sure if I am covering everything or am I missing any major step.
I spent so much time just planning and not actually writing that I am now wondering if planning is another way to procrastinate. The more time I spend on planning the less time I get to actually write.
Then this leads me to another line of thought — Is procrastination really bad? I saw a Ted talk some time back which addressed the exact same issue.
To summarize the video, the talk suggested that we work better when we are under pressure. During my college days, no matter how long I had to prepare for a test or an assignment, I usually worked the most at the 11th hour. That was the case with most of my fellow students. We all would waste weeks and then become super productive over the last day/hour.
I am not saying that it is the best thing to do. But I am just saying that this is what we used to do. Productivity didn't go down due to lack of time. Instead, the pressure made us focus more on the task at hand and we finished on time.
In the office, I realized something more sinister. Say I get a task assigned to me on Monday and its deadline is on Friday. I work hard, don't waste my time and I am able to finish my task on Wednesday itself. I tell my boss and they assign me another task to be finished by Friday. This time I am not able to finish it by Friday and hence I am asked to work through the weekend.
This makes me feel that the Moral of the story is — don't tell your boss that you have finished a task so soon that you get more task assigned and then get blamed for not finishing it on time instead of getting praise for finishing the task before time.
Sometimes, procrastination is necessary. It gives our mind the necessary time and space or recharge and tackles the problem in a better way.
Planning is not always a way to procrastinate. It may seem so since no plan can be so comprehensive that it requires no changes. We still need to plan to keep us moving in the right direction. What we don't need is to spend too much time in polishing step 100 before starting working on step 1. We need to get a general idea of how to start. Then we need to focus on one task at a time and not worry about other parts until it is time to get to them.
This is similar to how we take up assembling any furniture. We check how the finished product should look. Then we focus on one piece at a time and keep assembling it unless we get the final product.
So, the lesson I learnt today is not to waste time in making a perfect plan but rather start doing what I know needs to be done. Once I finish the immediate task, I will move on to the next and then the next until my writing projects are completed to my satisfaction.