Are you planning, or overthinking? 10 Red Flags

goals overthinking planning productivity Apr 27, 2023

We’ve all been there.  You have a big idea and you are so motivated to get started!  The ideas are flowing and you are inspired.  You’re taking great notes, making big plans and dreaming about how amazing it’s going to be.  When you lay your head down for sleep you are feeling excited, accomplished and proud of the work you’ve done.  Tomorrow you will take the next step.

When tomorrow comes your excitement has waned.  The caution sirens are going off in your head.  

Did you think about this?  

What if that happens?  

How am I ever going to feel confident enough to go there?

This, my friend, is where you have a critical choice to make.  You can decide to step into the realm of overthinking, or you can decide to start taking action and moving forward with your big idea.  But sometimes the line between the two choices can be a little bit blurry.  

Overthinking starts to look a little bit like taking action.  

Taking action starts to feel a little unplanned and might require some more ‘planning’.

For me, this happens when it’s time to sit down and write.  Whether it be a blog post like this, an email to a potential client, or a slide deck for an upcoming presentation.  I have great ideas as I am falling asleep, or when I wake up in the middle of the night.  But when it’s time to sit down and get started, it feels like that blank sheet of paper is staring at me, telling me I should put it off a little bit longer.  Which leads me into an endless loop of ‘planning’ - new ideas, procrastination, overthinking - and nothing to show for all the time and energy I have put into it.

Thankfully, I have uncovered a few red flags for myself that helped me to clear up the line between getting started with action and overthinking.  Which of these resonate for you?

Red Flags for unproductive ‘planning’

  1. Instead of getting started, you come up with another, better, great idea.
  2. All of a sudden organizing your electronic files seems very important.
  3. You feel the strong desire to ask one more friend for their advice.
  4. Everything on your desk is out of place and needs to be put away.
  5. You find yourself researching what other people have said about your same topic, again.
  6. Writing a list to organize your list of lists is a priority.
  7. Before you get started you decide to wrap up the loose ends on a few other projects.
  8. You have pressed the delete button more than all of the letter buttons combined.
  9. Learning how to use a new tool to make this project more effective feels urgent.
  10. You decide that clip art and graphics are required to make this project successful and spend the next two hours looking for the right one.

What red flags did I miss?  I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.  

For me, recognizing and calling attention to these red flags helps to me to identify when I am using planning in an un[productive way - overthinking, procrastinating, or just plain avoiding the work that I need to do.  Which means I will never accomplish the goals I want to accomplish.  I hope that sharing them with you will do the same.

If you find overthinking a big problem for you, maybe I can help.  I have created the Stop Overthinking and Get Shit Done resource just for that purpose.  In this guide I share 3 philosophies to adopt to be more productive, achieve your goals, and make your dreams a reality.  Download your copy now!