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Plan of Attack: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Being Organized

By Marth Michael

Forward Thinking

When faced with decisions such as your benefits package at work or the best neighborhood for your family, you often look at what will give you the most advantageous position in the future. There are many factors that affect a person’s ability to plan in advance, but sometimes an obsession with controlling what lies ahead is a bridge too far. You can’t always forecast the action on the front lines.

Here’s what you need to know about mapping the future.

Advantages of Planning Ahead

Most people have felt the pain of neglecting to create a plan and then suffering the consequences, from financial hits to failing grades. An article by offers a list of the best reasons to commit to planning in advance. There are a number of advantages associated with good planning.

Helping you set goals - It’s easier to move ahead when you have a reasonable, attainable trajectory, which you get with advanced planning. Without it, you’re more likely to be disappointed when you have unrealistic expectations or see no progress at all.

Breaking down problems - Life can be complicated and problems that arise can be minimized by dividing them into smaller, less abstract ideas. By devising a reasonable plan, you can gain resolution one step at a time.

Reducing risks - Any new experience comes with a certain level of risk; calculating the possible outcomes will help you decide how to proceed. A detailed plan increases certainty with each step forward, which establishes better odds.

Communicating credibility - Personal and professional credibility typically results in perks and benefits. Leaders with the ability to create effective plans are given greater responsibility and often a higher level of respect.

Encouraging creativity - When devising a plan, you weigh risks and parse out details that can lead to thinking outside the box. The process gets the job done but often sparks innovation as well.

Offering peace of mind - Engaging in a planning period naturally invites stress, but after sifting through details you can leave the uncertainty behind you and move forward.

Potential Pitfalls of Planning

Though clear direction can lead to grand achievements, there are plenty of potential drawbacks to overplanning, according to an article in Success Magazine.

Overthinking - From vacations to party plans, when you take responsibility for the outcome you can obsess about details and lose the joy of the original dream. If you find you can’t curb your thoughts, you may start to feel consumed or become enslaved to the project.

Overstimulating - Our fast-paced culture can become more demanding when we add multiple layers of planning to everyday tasks. Ironically, when you’re spread too thin, you can lose focus and end up underperforming.

Increased stress - The expectations inherent in planned activities can create pressure, which increases cortisol levels in your bloodstream. If the release of hormones is not kept under control, it can cause hair loss, libido changes, breakouts, and other negative health consequences.

Feeling trapped - It’s easy to be distracted by an overreaching plan. Your actions can become part of a machine causing you to disconnect from yourself. When you plug into the mechanics of a system, you gain ideas but don’t act upon your dreams.

People Who Don’t Plan

As personalities differ, organization skills do too, as well as a person’s approach to the process of planning. The website for time management coaching company Real Life E has an article about reasons why spontaneous people don’t plan in advance.

They live in the moment - By focusing on the present, spontaneous people give their full attention to those they’re with, but they can ignore other responsibilities. For this reason, they’re typically not known for outstanding time management skills.

They make decisions based on their feelings - When you don’t establish a schedule of plans, you follow the dictates of your whims. More staid folks tend to neglect their feelings while laid back people like to get their emotions involved.

They welcome changes - When you don’t commit to solid plans, you end up with twists and turns, which spontaneous people accept, and many times enjoy.

It gives them control - By resisting the pressure to commit, spontaneous people maintain control over their plans. They feel freer without the rigid confines of a script or predetermined roles.

Like most things in life, there’s a sweet spot where you balance the far ends of the spectrum in living a life with a plan in place. A Type A person might maintain too close an adherence to the lines that are drawn in the sand while those with a less rigid style may find their fallback position leads to an ambush. Either way, time marches on and, without a strategy, you may have trouble gaining ground.

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