One of the greatest challenges my clients face is the balance between planning and doing. For some clients there never seems to be enough time to plan. They are hit constantly with urgent tasks and requests, and the ability to think through issues before taking action is viewed as a fantasy. For others, they get seemingly stuck in planning, thinking through issues over and over and feeling unable (or unwilling) to make a move.

I believe this balance challenges us all – or at least most of us – and therefore reached out to the LinkedIn community to gather a few best practices on creating, or maintaining, that balance. Here is the best of the best of what I heard:

  • Remember that too much analysis can be paralysis – “Like a samurai at battle, you should spend the majority of your time sizing up the enemy (i.e., analyzing your problem) and as soon as their weakness is clear you must act without hesitation and immediately (i.e., once you have a plan, do it!).”
  • Spend time each day doing both – “I spend an hour a day on planning and the rest of each day executing my plans.”
  • Create lists of action items – “I create action plans for my goals and objectives. Once I’ve brainstormed the steps to reach my goals, I find it much easier to accomplish them because I simply have to check the items off my list.”
  • Focus – “Plan from a clear, overriding intention. The first action step is focus. Being out of alignment creates stress, resistance, avoidance, and procrastination.”
  • Focus again – “Plan just enough to do all the things you have to do. Only do the things that you have planned.”
  • Focus on today – “Many people spend a disproportionate amount of time planning things out and considering the future. Instead, focus on what you can do right now, today, or this week to improve your life and contribute to a specific goal – and then start doing it.” (Paul Christian Konz)

Balancing planning and doing can be a challenge – and it can be an opportunity. It often takes intention and reflection to balance them well – as we wrote about in an earlier blog, Slow down for better leadership. Balance implies that there is no one right way, and that we’ll most likely sway back and forth between one side (approach) and another…and that’s okay. Only by being willing to sway, to experiment, and to fall a bit now and then will we find the best way for us, for today, to plan and to do.

What works for you?
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