Monday, July 31, 2017

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Why Planning and Overestimating is Important in Life


Quote of the day: 

But the delights of solitude don't only consist of dreaming. Next in enjoyment, I think, comes planning. 

-Anna Neagle 





A primary characteristic of life is that it is constantly changing. The days are different, and so are our thoughts, actions and plans. And speaking of plans, what makes it such a significant aspect of our every day lives? According to Alan Lakin “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now".

In life things can go wrong without the slightest warning. Other times things can take longer than expected and although we can't always plan for the unexpected, at least we can set goals for our expectations. However, one pitfall of planning is being over optimistic about the duration and completion of it. There is a name for that - a theory aptly titled the 'planning fallacy'. It was was first proposed in the seventies by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two psychologists renowned for their work on psychology of judgement and decision making. The theory basically states that predicting how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias (that bad things are less likely to happen to you), while underestimating the time needed. For example if an individual predicts three weeks to complete a task, in the end it may actually require a month or so.

The planning fallacy occurs in our daily lives. We've even seen public projects fall short of this. When creating plans there is the tendency to underestimate how long it will take. And when we are in that position, we take the easy route out -make excuses about our failures while laying the blame on other factors beyond our control. Setting out on a plan, say to run faster than the fastest man in the world -in this case Jamaica's Usain Bolt, it won't do any good to underestimate him as the opponent in the race. Because while you are planning to match or beat his best time, he is also working hard on beating his own world record. On the face of it the things we know can change, and there exists an optimistic bias when we think of the future without taking the past into consideration.

If we traveled from point A to B in an hour the day before, we are more likely to discount factors that led to that journey being made on time. We think of things like 'If traffic was heavy on that route yesterday, today should be different" or something along those lines. So in effect, we allocate less time for the journey this time around while also hinging our decision off other mental processes.

Have you ever missed the time or ability needed to finish something, perhaps underestimated how long it would take for you to get dressed for a meeting or event, or how long a personal project like writing an assignment, researching a book, painting a house, or learning a new language would take to get finished? Sound familiar? It sure does for me. I guess what I am implying is that, in life overestimating is better than underestimating. The art of planning is essential to everyday life, and businesses.

The best thing about making a plan is being realistic about how much time is really needed from start to finish. Planning fallacy can have negative effects especially if it happens more often than intended. So when you do make a plan, take everything into consideration and do grant yourself some leeway in terms of additional time you would need to complete said goal. The same goes for making promises -which in a way is a debt, always leave room for shortfalls, or rather under-promise and over-deliver.


Peace. Love. Light* 



Current Listen: Miles Davis -So What



57 comments:

  1. "Planing" is something that we try to Avoid ... if we do so , it usually Fails... so we merely prepare for any contingency that might arise. just "Be Prepared"... seems to work a Lot better than Planing
    A pleasant first of the Week to you and yours, good Sir.

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    1. Too many Plans would take a lot more Time than we have... so just hope for the best ... and we lack "resources" for most anything that we might Plan... so, mostly pointless for now... but still not yet ready to give up... even if we have No Plans (and few Hopes)... we try to take each day as they come... "Expect the Worst, and Hope for the Best" ...

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    2. Too many plans are no good if there's no way to keep track, so that is true. So it makes sense to plan while leaving room for enough time to actually finish it!

      Taking each day as it comes is a plan in itself :)

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    3. We used to be a very good DM ("game-master) at Dungeons and Dragons for years... and could keep track of most All little bits of their "game-world"... so rather good at working with these many "plans" and can quickly draw upon (and rearrange as needed) these to try and combat whatever befalls us.. Time is often the "unknown" factor in things( and we often have at least some idea of how much longer a task should take to complete...

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  2. I forgot, in the years since our daughter was young, how long it takes to do things with young children. The realization required some adjustment to prep times when doing activities with the kids. Life with small children is like wrangling a herd of turtles. Just a time adjustment required and it's all good however.

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    1. I like this thought about making a slight change to routine, adjusting time to fit with the purpose.

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  3. Nicely planned (no pun intended) and thought out post. I enjoyed reading it. The point that really stuck with me is underestimating time. That is one true fact in all situations I think. :) Erika

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    1. Nicely done, ha. I'm glad you found it interesting, thank you. Yes indeed, we should never have to underestimate time or our potential for getting things done.

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  4. I agree that overestimating is better if we are setting a time frame ourselves. However, if we have a dead line - set by someone else - we better be on the ball!!

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    1. I believe so too, things that we set for ourselves can be better dealt with, but if its beyond our control we have to be honest with how far we can go to finish something set by someone else I think.

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  5. Very rarely do I get timings wrong, and through experience I have learnt that when painting the inside of a house, calculate how long it will take and then double it.

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    1. Hey Andrew, your comment made me laugh. A few years ago I asked my husband if we could paint the house over the Labor Day weekend. He was sure it would take longer but I was convinced the two of us could do it, after all, it was a small house. LOL Three days later we were still on one side of the house. Oops! Boy was I wrong. It took us all of almost a full two weeks to complete the job. I gave up house painting.

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    2. Andrew, what can I say, its great you've learned that through experience -not getting timings wrong and being wise enough to know that painting the inside of a house may take longer than expected.

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  6. I really like the 'underpromise and overdeliver' theory. And am chuckling at Andrew's very true comment about house painting.

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  7. I was a party planner.Good planning was essential. It meant the difference between "what shall we do now" and disaster.

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  8. I enjoy dreaming, and planning and pushing through, friend B ... because that's what life is all about. Love, cat.

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  9. Thanks a lot :D

    I'm totally agree with you. I'm super organized person and I really love to take time to everything

    NEW DECOR POST | Home CRUSH: Entrance Hall – The Essentials :D
    InstagramFacebook Official PageMiguel Gouveia / Blog Pieces Of Me :D

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  10. So true, darling. Well stated!

    Love Miles Davis too :)

    xoxox,
    CC

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  11. This makes so much sense. In order to get better with my time, I now use a Planner and make it fun with stickers to remind me of what I'm supposed to do and stay on track. It truly helps. Hope your Monday is fabulous! Hugs...

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  12. Overestimating is the story of our lives. We are known for jumping into high-risk undertakings, but most people don't appreciate how much planning we do before we "jump." And the plan always includes the worst-case scenario. Can we survive that? If so, and if we still want to do it, we jump.

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  13. I couldn't agree more, I always plan ahead!

    Have an awesome day!
    xx Kris

    https://dreamingofpink.wordpress.com

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  14. Hi Blogoratti - planning - yes I need to do a lot more, complete each task and get on with life - painting ... been there, done that - no more I hope! But you're right it's better to under promise (but promise) yet over deliver ...that idea makes total sense. Cheers Hilary

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  15. i think it depends on the item you are thinking about ... some need more planning than others??! i get where you are coming from though. ( :

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  16. Sometimes the planning can be the most fun. I've always been one to "arrive early." I'd rather be there and have to wait than get stressed trying to get somewhere on time. I too love the Alan Lakin quote. I do a lot of planning, so it really hits home.
    Loved your post. Have a great day.

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  17. Hello, I try planning ahead. I also plan to expect the unexpected too. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

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  18. Plan for the best but prepare for the worst. Well, isn't that a Gretchen Sunshine saying? :-D Have a good day!

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  19. I have always been a planner and even in retirement I plan my week ahead. Thankfully my husband is a planner too but he is one who underestimates the amount of time a task will take so uses every minute and even more than necessary.
    By the way I got to the Library of Congress on Friday, have posted photos of the outside and today will post ones of the inside.

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  20. There are always variables indeed. What goes from one day can change to the next.

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  21. I tend to be a "planner" but I do try to always put some cushion and flex in most plans to allow for the variables. The older I get the less flustered I get when plans fall apart. I am pretty good most of the time to just readjust the plan. Just in all aspects of life finding balance seems to be the answer. Having enough of a plan to allow for some structure but open enough to take advantage of fun and spontaneity.

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  22. I am a planner, always have been and always will be and I do believe in planning, but also we need a back up plan or need to remember not all plans work as we want them to.

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  23. Very true and good advice! I am very careful about making promises and when I do, it's usually for sure.

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  24. Some plans come together very nicely and others not so much. It's how we react to the plans that's key. Take a deep breath and just go with the flow. You'll live far longer.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  25. As an IT project manager forever, you make me think back to all those worthless plans I created, which fell apart because the technicians making the estimates were liars. 'Sure, I can get that done by then.'

    Oh my aching head.

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  26. Can't go without plans, but sure can come up with plenty Plan B and further options. Always good to have a banker Plan B.

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  27. This is very true ;-) I'm good at planning and sometimes I find myself frustrated by the lack of this feature in others.

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  28. Like planning a vacation trip, we always make plans of things we'd like to do when we reach our destination, but we always overestimate the number of things vs the time we will be there, we know that we won't do everything planned, but overestimating is always part of the plan.

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  29. A primary characteristic of life is that it is constantly changing. The days are different, and so are our thoughts, actions and plans. And speaking ...
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  30. Does planning and flexibility go together ... it seems that sometimes they do!

    All the best Jan

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  31. I've always been a planner.Oftentimes it has saved me from problems. but I never am able to foresee it all.

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  32. Excellent post. I always refer to it as keeping one's goals reasonable rather than setting oneself up for failure. Small steps in a realistic timeframe.

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  33. Planning and flexibility go hand in hand. While you plan sometimes life will throw you a curve ball and you just have to make adjustments. Nice thoughtful post, Blogoratti.

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  34. You said:
    For example if an individual predicts three weeks to complete a task, in the end it may actually require a month or so.

    Definitely. Especially when renewing a house :D
    Short plans can be done, but for a longer time... you'll never know.

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  35. You said:
    For example if an individual predicts three weeks to complete a task, in the end it may actually require a month or so.

    Definitely. Especially when renewing a house :D
    Short plans can be done, but for a longer time... you'll never know.

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  36. Planning is important. I say this as a person who has always "flown by the seat of my pants". At the same time I like to leave myself available for the spontaneity opportunities in life.

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  37. Absolutely spot on! When we "under plan," we are almost always setting ourselves up for disappointment in the end.
    Blessings!

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  38. This post is pertinent to my day today.

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  39. What is that old saying... God laughs at those who plan. :) I agree with what you have said here and to set realistic goals and to realize that not everything is within out power. Good post!

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  40. Willingness to plan is accepting discipline in meeting goals. Winging it often runs awry.

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  41. Very interesting post, Blogoratti! I've struggled with an optimistic bias in planning throughout my life. I was especially frustrated by not getting as much done each day as I hoped when I was teaching. My school nurse gave me some great advice. Her responsibilities were perhaps even more overwhelming and interrupted than mine as a teacher. She said that she would pick one task or duty that she had to do each day. Then, if she she managed that, she told herself she had a great day. I started doing that and felt better. I've learned to double the time I initially estimate for a job. But I still wake up most mornings believing I can move mountains. LOL

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  42. I am thinking that the planning fallacy could work in reverse depending on your personality -- that you could overestimate the time that it would take to do some things if you are a cautious sort of person. But I suppose that it wouldn't be as common.

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