The planning fallacy: what it is, why it hurts and how you can beat it! Ta-da!

Written by  //  April 6, 2015  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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Have you heard of the Planning Fallacy? It’s a thing! It means we underestimate (by a lot) how long it takes us to do stuff. And it happens to all of us so even though you and I might think we are immune to it, we’re actually not! And, oh goodness. It makes things TRICKY!


So, this is why the Planning Fallacy makes things tricky:

1 It means we don’t get as much done in a day as we think we’ll do!

Do you routinely get to the end of the day and feel frustrated that you didn’t get more done? Me too! Me too! And d’you know why it happens so much? It’s the Planning Fallacy! Quite simply we’re bad at estimating how long our to-dos are going to take us so we put more on our daily to-do list than we can actually do! Indeed!

2 It means we make some bad decisions about new ideas!

Have you ever finished a project and said to yourself that if you’d known at the beginning how long it would take you’d never have started it!?! Oh goodness! I have! All sorts of times! From baking for Fundraisers through to preparing courses for The Business Bakery I’ve woefully underestimated how long my projects would take!

Most times while it’s annoying to underestimate the time thing, it’s not a big drama. But if you’re halfway through a new business project and realise it’s going to take way more time than it’s worth then – Gah! -you’ve made a bad decision!

I’ve got a friend who started writing articles for a biggish website. She committed to contributing an article a week for a year, thinking it would be a cheap way of raising her profile. But within a month she realised she’d made a big mistake. The articles she thought would take her about an hour to write were taking her more like 7! Eek! This wasn’t a low cost marketing venture at all!

How to beat the Planning Fallacy

It’s not easy to beat the Planning Fallacy. It’s hardwired into us. But there is something you can do which REALLY helps!

It’s keeping a timesheet!

How to keep a Timesheet

Now this really is not as yucky as it sounds. In fact it’s super simple. Just get a little notebook and write down how you spend every 15 minutes of your work day!

At the end of every day tally up how long you’ve spent on each type of work and you’ll quickly see where your time is going!

Try keeping your Timesheet going for at least a couple of weeks – that might sound like a lot but it’s the best way to get a picture of how long stuff actually takes to do!

Change your Daily to-do list!

A couple of weeks of keeping your timesheet will help you see how long tasks actually take you to do so now you can work out how much you can really get done in a day!

Now you just need to reduce the amount of your daily to-do list so it’s more achievable…..

OK so that might be easier said than done, after all you still have the same amount of work to do. Or do you?! Maybe when you realise you can’t get through everything on your to-do list you’ll get better at deciding what to do and what not to do! Indeed!

(Need help with this? Here’s a TIP!)

Get better at estimating new projects!

So how do you get better at making decisions about new ideas? Well it’s always tricky to know how long a new project will take. But I think having a better understanding of how long every day tasks take makes it easier to guess how long a new project will take!

I also do something very unscientific. I just double the amount of time I think a new project will take. And then I’m about right!

Want to know more?!

1.Some scientific notes on the Planning Fallacy here.

2. If you want to start keeping a Timesheet, we have a Timesheet Workbook here!

3. If you feel like you have too much to do and wondering if you can ever make your solo business successful without working 24/7 , you’ll love our new guide“How to get it all done when you’re a business of ONE” . You totally CAN do it!

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