The Balance Between Doing and Planning

There is a force at the heart of nearly everything we do in life. It tugs on us in two directions (assuming we are not “at rest”)–in one corner is doing, in the other is planning.

I guarantee we all know at least one person with an unhealthy addiction to either extreme, a lack of balance. First, I want to define what I mean by each kind of use of our time.

For me, “doing” means things like:

  • Earning money by working for an employer
  • Writing freelance articles
  • Engaging in any kind of creative work
  • Cleaning the house
  • Responding to emails and phone calls

“Planning” could include:

  • Goal setting
  • Project management
  • Billing and accounting
  • Deciding what items to purge from your house
  • Delegating tasks

I think that it’s critical we keep the two in balance in order to succeed in our personal and professional lives. Any endeavor requires the right amount of each.

What would abuse of this critical balance look like? Someone on the “doing” end might:

  • Be a workaholic
  • Be great at what they do but still go out of business
  • Dislike going to meetings
  • Feel their life is always hectic
  • Deal with people like they’re just another task
  • Jump into decisions just to “keep going”
  • Alienate friends and family with their tunnel vision

Too much “planning” could lead to someone who might:

  • Endlessly plan out their projects
  • Review their goals without ever acting on them
  • Constantly change how they plan out their day
  • Hold a lot of meetings to review progress and hold philosophical discussions
  • Over-systemize their work and home life

It’s clear that neither extreme is a good place to be–a doer will end up getting a lot completed and never realize they were working on the wrong project. A planner will calculate their next steps and never have the courage to take them.

Well, Wojo, what are some example of how this would apply to money? Glad you asked. Suppose you’re working on any of the following tasks, goals, or projects. What follows are examples of “doing” and “reviewing” activities for each one:

Paying off a mountain of debt.

  • Doing: Conducting a yard sale, earning extra money from delivering pizzas, or packing your lunch every day this week.
  • Planning: Checking balances, making extra pamyments, and organizing debts in order of priority.

Starting a new freelance business.

  • Doing: Contacting potential clients to see if they’re interested in doing business together, producing freelance work.
  • Planning: Putting client information in a database, sending out invoices.

Saving for retirement.

  • Doing: Setting up automatic withdrawals, managing active investments.
  • Planning: Calculating your “number,” checking balances, and reviewing asset allocations.

Buying a house.

As you can see, it simply won’t work unless you do both components, and do them in the correct amounts. Too much doing and you’ll lose your way, too much reviewing and you’ll lose momentum.

In your life, have you ever gone too far in one direction? What did you do and what was the result? Please share if you can!

One thought on “The Balance Between Doing and Planning

  1. I’m guilty of planning too much and spend a lot of time checking accounts, but then I remind myself that staring at the screens won’t change anything! I requested my credit report the other day as I’m considering home ownership and so was thrilled to see that counts as doing!

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