Did you know that your body releases dopamine after creating a to-do list? It sometimes feels like the best way to structure or untangle a myriad of thoughts and ideas that are held in your mind. But the following steps are a challenge. Once the list shows you how much you have to do or how little time you may have, you may find yourself in a loop of unproductivity / procrastination that is stifled by feelings like being overwhelmed. This is a guide to overcome obsessive planning and to create a new mantra of riding the waves of uncertainty and imperfection to turn words into action.
𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝗿𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 – 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗰𝗿𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲
A great project undoubtedly requires a good amount of planning to make a vision a reality. But when does productive planning cross into procrastination? Self-awareness is what can draw the line between the two, if you catch yourself funneling details and time into a schedule or spreadsheet it is worth asking yourself if this is the best use of time. Remember, motivation is a fleeting emotion, don’t wait for it, act on discipline and self-awareness of where you should put all your energy into.
𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘁𝗼-𝗱𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁 – 𝗔 𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗰𝘁
Over-planning and making tight schedules may seem appealing and may make you feel in control of what you have to do. But it’s important to be reminded of the number of times your previous projects have had bumps in the road, changed course, and required you to be flexible. Setting tight plans leaves little wiggle room for when moments may require adapting. It’s also important to acknowledge the likes of impromptu phone calls, personal responsibilities, transit delays are things that will take up your time. Pushbacks are inevitable, but a tight schedule that creates a domino pushback can leave you feeling defeated, that’s why a to-do list should be balanced in flexibility and planning.
𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘀
Creator of the Bullet Journal Method Ryder Carroll thinks that planning and perfectionism often go hand in hand. “You create this perfect plan of how you’re going to achieve a goal—you’re going to write four hours a day for the next month, for example, and then your book will be done. But I’ve learned to stop setting goals that way,” he says.
He states that plans should be viewed as “Lighthouses”, only guides towards the safe passage for us to follow. Carroll encourages shifting your focus away from the end goal but to the process.
My goals are now about what I’m learning and what I’m moving towards, and course-correcting constantly.” As a result, Carroll is not as hard on himself. “As long as I’m working, as long as I’m showing up every day, I will make progress. That is enough.”
𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗽𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮 𝗹𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗲𝗿
“It’s easy to look at people who are successful or where we aspire to be and wonder how they knew which steps to take when in reality they did one thing, and the next step or lily pad was illuminated,” says Becky Simpson – Artist, art director, and creator of online store Chipper Things.
Simpson encourages viewing a career as a stepping stone, rather than a long and linear ladder. This mindset gives solace to the feelings of uncertainty, especially in a creative career where there is no orthodox trajectory to ‘making it’. Rather a focus on the learning and growth of your career development will allow procrastination and perfectionist-based planning to subside. As you focus less on the overwhelming mountain to climb to reach the end game, and more of the certain experiences that are moulding the pathway for you, the more you are able to achieve.
𝗦𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴?
- Time limits for your planning. Internal boundaries within yourself limit procrastination and encourage self-awareness of your productivity.
- When setting your schedule, remember to leave wiggle room to adapt and be flexible. Taking in variables that may be tedious such as phone calls are also important to not underestimate your time.
- Remember – progress over perfection, pick a task, and make a start, actions are better than words.
- Embrace fear. The creative industry is muddled with uncertainty. This is inevitable. But what is not is your ability to remain composed and remember that you’re not failing, but growing.