I often hear the phrase “bias for action” as a positive trait.

I don’t disagree. When choosing between taking action, or not, I strive to be someone who takes action.

After all, taking action is one of the best ways to learn. Results do not come to those who choose to do nothing.

Any trait that is overexpressed has its flaws.

The downside of being overly action-oriented is impulsivity.

Incidentally, that fits me quite well. My natural tendency is toward impulsivity, so it makes sense that I like “action-orientation” and consider it a positive.

But that also makes me acutely aware of the downsides.

How To Plan Your Work

Admittedly, I am not much of a planner.

But I have come to realize that some planning is useful.

Here’s my guide to planning for people who are bad at planning:

  1. Brief but frequent. For example, pause for 5 minutes (or 10) to decide what you are going to do tomorrow. This is quick, so it can even be done twice a day. But the point is, there is a moment where you think, zoom out, and look before you dive in.

  2. Plan ONE thing you will do. Has this ever happened to you? You suddenly find yourself with an hour (maybe between meetings), but a million things on your to do list. You haphazardly try to make progress on 3 of them at once, jumping between activities. You get nothing done.

Getting Results

Sometimes we get impatient to get things done, but I have fallen into the trap way too many times where I end up trying to do too much, and making no material progress on any of the things I did.

The key here is to focus our efforts, without devolving into the “planning to plan” format of procrastination. Pick one thing that, if you achieve it, you agree to be satisfied.

The key to achieving more is doing less, but doing it consistently.