If you are lucky then you will have a personality which gives you a natural balance between planning your work and actually doing it. However, many of us have a predisposition towards either spending too long figuring out what we need to do or else diving right in too quickly.
I definitely fall into the latter category, as I get a bit bored with too much planning and need to hold myself back from getting started before I am ready. However, let’s look at it from both points of view.
How Can I Plan More?
If you are like me then you run the risk of neglecting the planning aspect of the job. I just want to get on with it and start doing things but what I need to realize is that the planning aspect of the project management is also part of “doing things”. This is a fundamental part of the job and if you try and skip it then you are just asking for trouble. In fact, probably the greatest incentive you could have is that of having experienced problems in the past through a lack of planning. If you have run into problems before then it is pretty much certain that you will do all that you can to avoid them in the future.
How Can I Plan Less?
I have seen the opposite problem in some of my colleagues. These project managers will spend weeks and weeks poring over their plans and run the risk of leaving it too late before getting started on the work itself. Anyone who works like this presumably enjoys the planning aspect but is it also that they are trying to put off the rest of the job for some reason? I reckon that you probably need to work out first of all what it is that drives you to approach your project in this way. Once you have identified this reason then you will be in a much better position to go on and divide up your time appropriately.
How Do I Know If There Is a Problem?
You will probably know instinctively when you are dedicating too much time to one aspect of the role or the other. However, if you can’t make up your mind about it then what should you do? The first step is to have a think about how you have split your time on the work so far. Each project will be different in the way it forces you to use your time but you certainly shouldn’t be too far tilted one way or another. Another way to see if there is a problem is if you think that you are too busy to get any planning done. This isn’t a valid reason for neglecting your planning and it just means that you need to try harder to free up time for this vital task.
Should I Delegate More?
The idea of delegating out work is one which you should definitely be aware of. The big problem here is that you need to be sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. For example, you might want to coach your team onto a higher level or farm out the jobs which you know that they can handle. What you don’t want to do is delegate work which you should be doing but which you don’t want. In my case I would happily give the planning work to someone else in the team, but I know that it is my responsibility to do this.
When Does the Planning Stop?
In most projects there are elements of planning all the way through it. In fact, at some point the line between planning and doing becomes pretty fuzzy anyway. You might spend some time at the start of the piece of work almost exclusively dedicated to planning. After this though, you don’t simply move onto the doing stage and forget about the planning. Your project is liable to suffer changes and setback along the way, and these are what you need to consider from a planning perspective. Your project plan is unlikely to stay static for very long, as you will need to make changes to it on an ongoing basis. Perhaps it will work best for you if you set aside a fixed period of time each week to update the plan, although you might simply prefer doing so on an ad hoc basis as changes occur.