I’m not going to tell you planning is not important. After all, I help people both plan and learn the skills needed to plan.
But too much planning can definitely get in your way, and sometimes it makes sense to just start. Now you are wondering, “When is planning too much? When should I plan and when is it better to just dig in?”
Of course, there are no hard and fast answers. But the suggestions below can help guide you.
Too Many Little Tasks
There are times when you have a long list of small tasks such as calls, emails, errands, etc. They aren’t urgent, yet. So, they keep going to the bottom of the list because you have other, more important, things to do.
While they may not be daunting or very time consuming to do, these little tasks take up precious realty in your head with a steady stream of thoughts like:
- “I need to get this done.”
- “When am I going to do this?”
- “I should have done this last week, month…”
If you have a long list of these types of tasks, it might make sense to just start anywhere and do them. Don’t do a lot of planning.
The benefit of this seemingly haphazard strategy is that you might feel less overwhelmed when you have a smaller task list. And you will have fewer thought of “I should do…” racing about in your head.
Don’t Know Where to Start
Decision making is certainly one of the big challenges for Adults with ADHD, especially when it comes to initiating. As the ideas swirl about in your head about where to start, you think:
- “I could…”
- “But if I do that, then…”
- “Maybe, instead, I should…”
- “While I could…”
After doing this for a while you may opt instead to clean the kitchen, mow the lawn, watch TV, organize your email… Anything but start!
Possibly, when you are overwhelmed with too many possibilities, you turn to an alternative activity, like one of the above, out of habit.
When you find yourself procrastinating because you don’t know where to start, one strategy is to, yes, stop trying to plan the best place to start, and just begin.
One advantage to this method is that, as you start working, it may become more evident how to go about doing the task/project.
But, you may be wondering, “What if I choose the wrong path?”
That is not necessarily a bad thing. Because then you will know you need to try something else. And you will be further ahead on the task than if you had organized your email or cleaned the kitchen, right?
Fear of Making Mistakes
Another time when planning can get in your way is when you stay in planning mode because you are afraid you may make mistakes. You use planning to forestall actually getting starting.
Underlying this procrastination is the awareness that, if you try to do something, you may get it wrong. Nobody likes to make mistakes, for sure. But, again, you are one step closer to figuring out what you need to do to move forward.
We are all failures – at least the best of us are. ~ J.M. Barrie
In other words, if you want to accomplish anything, never mind getting really good at something, you need to be willing to fail.
And hopefully, if you do get it wrong, you can say, “Ok, I guess that is not the way to do it. Let me try…”
Trying to Get It Perfect
Similar to a fear of making mistakes is wanting to get it just right, perfect. Perfectionism is a hard habit for most people to break.
And, as an Adult with ADHD, if you have a history of feeling like you often miss the mark, it may be even harder to be willing to take imperfect steps. You are afraid of not getting it right, again.
- The 1st step is acknowledging mistakes are inevitable and deciding you are willing to make them.
- The 2nd step is taking a leap of faith so you can discover you will be ok even when you get it wrong.
And then the hold fear has on you, keeping you in the planning mode, will dissipate as you have more experiences feeling ok doing things imperfectly.
Here is one of my first blog post. Not very good, right? And, yes, I have thought of taking it down. But, as a recovering perfectionist, I challenged myself to keep it up. And I discovered I can survive. 🙂
Are you ready to take a leap of faith? Where can you stop planning and take action, however imperfect?
Not Trusting Your Instinct
Intuition is that calm inner voice you hear when you’re mind is relatively still that says, “Yes, this feels right.” You are not sure why, but you just know. It is likely a knowing from years of experience and pondering.
Your intuition doesn’t push you to act right now for fear of losing an opportunity in front of you. Rather, it is that persistent voice that stirs in you gently coaxing you in particular direction.
Sure you can listen to your instinct and still plan.
But sometimes following your instinct in the moment means not planning, such as:
- speaking your mind about something you are passionate about
- accepting a job offer without a lot of weighing of pros and cons
- walking away from an uncomfortable social situation five minutes after arriving
You may not be willing to listen to the wisdom of your inner voice because you think you may be acting impulsively. A common concern for adults with ADHD.
The key is to be able to discern between being impulsive and using your instinct to guide you. It is not always easy.
When you are impulsive, you are commonly reacting to a trigger like:
- becoming angry at someone for something they said or did
- buying the next shiny penny
- making a decision in the moment because you are uncomfortable with weighing all the options
Often times, an impulsive thought leading to an impulsive action is fleeting. So, if you can learn to manage your impulsiveness in the moment, the thought might dissipate in time.
But a thought that comes from your intuition will persist and keep nagging at you, and can serve as a useful guide.
Stop and listen to it.
Question for You
Where would it help you to stop planning and “Just Do It!”