The Equator
Published in

The Equator

How to Not Fear Making Daily Plans

In five simple tricks

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

It never works?

Treat yourself with YouTube videos on “Getting Things Done” or titles along those lines, perhaps by Thomas Frank or Ali Abdaal.

In any case, ensure your daily plans consist of small, actionable steps and you’re ready to go.

Most of the time, it’s the vagueness of plans that fail them.

It feels like a waste of time?

I used to feel bad spending time and effort planning.

I felt it’s much more practical to just jump into doing things.

It guarantees results, but is not as optimal as when properly planned.

So I started to limit myself: spend no more than ten minutes to make daily plans.

If it goes well, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll only lose a negligible ten minutes of my 24 hours.

I really like this passage from Jason Fried’s brief Medium story:

Busting your ass planning something important? Feel like you can’t proceed until you have a bulletproof plan in place? Replace “plan” with “guess” and take it easy. That’s all plans really are anyway: guesses.

Another approach is to plan later, as Hadley Laskowski described:

Plan later. Plan [for tomorrow] at the end of the day, after work, after the gym, after writing your book. This strategy allows you to dedicate your primary energy to action.

Having to reschedule when schedules fail?

This can be prevented by reducing your schedule’s precision to make room for mistakes.

You may also add an hour of empty “buffer time” where you can catch up on things.

Yet schedules may still fail.

And rescheduling means discarding the existing schedule, along with the time and effort we had put into creating it.

It often feels bad to do so. But feeling bad doesn’t help.

Instead, consider the failed part (or even the whole schedule) as a sunk cost:

“A sunk cost is a sum paid in the past that is no longer relevant to decisions about the future.”
Wikipedia

In other words, simply “reset” — start fresh with a new plan. Pretend as if nothing has happened before.

I’ve been doing this frequently, and as it has become an instinct, I don’t fear rescheduling that much anymore.

Feeling like a failure when plans fail?

Yes, it is a failure. So what?

It is a sunk cost, too.

Start fresh. Life is wonderful.

Daily plans are boring. Or are they?

I used to feel that for a plan to work, it has to be as simple as it can.

Due to this, there used to be very little variety in the activities I add to my daily plans.

And when I didn’t plan, it felt like I could do whatever I want to do.

It felt like freedom.

But this can’t be true.

It might be due to the stereotypical rigidity of plans, because I can actually break plans if I really can and need to.

And I don’t need to worry about feeling bad doing so: broken plans are sunk costs, right?

Another way to think about it:
We plan all the time, even when doing “spontaneous” acts.

The only difference is the time gap between planning and executing it.

Making (or not making) daily plans doesn’t interfere with your freedom.

You don’t have to plan every day

Making daily plans to stay productive when you don’t have to (e.g. holidays) can be too much pressure.

If you want to be consistent, resort to crafting habits instead.

As James Clear explained in Atomic Habits: habits free up mental space.

Summary

  1. Improve the clarity of your plans.
  2. Plan only in ten minutes, or plan at the end of the day.
  3. Failed plans are sunk costs. Always start fresh.
  4. Feel free to break plans.
  5. Plan only if necessary.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anshari Hasanbasri

Anshari Hasanbasri

Studies medicine 🧑‍⚕️. Currently writes on health ⛑, education 🧑‍🎓, day-to-day documentaries 📹, with unpopular ideas 💡 along the way. Writes in 🇬🇧🇮🇩