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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

346. Defeating the Planning Fallacy: Strategies for Smarter Time Management (Refreshed Episode)

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, you’ll join host Melina Palmer as she dives into the fascinating topic of the planning fallacy. Melina shares her personal experiences with underestimating the time it takes to complete tasks and projects, revealing that even she, an expert in the field, is not immune to this cognitive bias. But fear not, because Melina also provides valuable strategies to combat the planning fallacy and improve your planning accuracy. 

From seeking external perspectives to breaking tasks into smaller steps, she offers practical advice that you can implement in your own life. Whether you struggle with accurately estimating time or simply want to enhance your productivity, this episode is a must-listen. So get ready to tackle the planning fallacy head-on and start maximizing your time and efficiency.

In this episode:

  • Maximize productivity by understanding the planning fallacy and its impact on time estimation.
  • Learn effective strategies to combat the planning fallacy and accurately estimate project timelines.
  • Improve planning accuracy and avoid delays caused by underestimating the time needed for tasks.
  • Unpack complex projects into manageable tasks for more accurate time allocation.
  • Overcome the challenges of planning fallacy when dealing with large-scale projects.
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HERE'S A 2 MINUTE TIP.

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SHOW NOTES:

00:00:00 – Introduction,
Melina introduces the concept of planning fallacy and explains how it affects our ability to estimate the time and effort required for tasks. She also mentions her upcoming conversation with Nick Sonnenberg and how his book, Come Up for Air, inspired her to refresh this episode.

00:02:16 – The Foundations of Planning Fallacy
Melina discusses how planning fallacy was first introduced by Kahneman and Tversky in 1979. They found that errors in judgment were systematic and not random, indicating a bias in the brain. Planning fallacy affects all kinds of people, even experts, and it can be difficult to overcome.

00:05:05 – Why We Fall Victim to Planning Fallacy
Melina explains that the brain is naturally inclined to focus on success and underestimate the possibility of failure. We tend to believe that things will go smoothly and that we can do it all, leading to unrealistic expectations and missed deadlines. Even having deadlines and incentives doesn’t necessarily help.

00:08:54 – Biases Contributing to Planning Fallacy
Melina discusses several biases and brain tricks that contribute to planning fallacy, including the focusing illusion and fundamental attribution error. The focusing illusion causes us to allocate different amounts of time based on what we’re currently focused on, while fundamental attribution error leads us to attribute external or internal factors incorrectly.

00:15:57 – The Myth of 8 Hours of Writing
Writing for 8 hours straight is not actually 8 hours of writing. Taking breaks and getting distracted reduces the actual writing time. A suggested technique is to write for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, repeating this cycle. This helps to combat planning fallacy and increase productivity.

00:17:43 – The Impact of Distractions and Breaks
Distractions and breaks, such as emails and unexpected projects, further decrease writing time. Considering these interruptions, a planned 8-hour writing day may result in only 4.5 hours of actual writing. This means that the anticipated 32 pages would be reduced to only 18.

00:19:47 – Planning for Worst Case Scenario
To overcome planning fallacy, it is crucial to plan for the worst case scenario. By allocating a realistic amount of time for productive writing and acknowledging potential distractions, you can avoid beating yourself up over unmet expectations. Celebrate achieving your planned writing time.

00:21:51 – Urgent vs Important Tasks
The urgent vs important grid helps prioritize tasks. Determine if a task is important, urgent, both, or neither. This framework helps in dismissing distractions by asking if they are truly important and urgent compared to the planned task. Planning for distractions helps stick to timelines and overcome planning fallacy.

00:31:48 – Understanding the Planning Fallacy
Launching a podcast involves various tasks that may seem quick and easy on the surface. However, breaking them down into subtasks reveals the true complexity of the process. Properly allocating time and planning for each subtask can help reduce stress and ensure completion without overcommitting.

00:33:48 – The Power of Unpacking
Unpacking tasks into their smallest subcomponents is essential for complex projects like launching a podcast. Simple tasks may not benefit as much from unpacking, but for larger projects, it helps in understanding the full scope and allocating sufficient time for each task.

00:34:27 – Overcoming Planning Fallacy
Planning fallacy is a natural tendency that affects everyone. Being aware of this tendency and using the tips mentioned in the episode can help overcome it. Having a trusted friend or colleague to keep you in check is also crucial in avoiding overcommitment and excessive work.

00:35:11 – Personal Experience with Planning Fallacy
Melina admits to constantly struggling with planning fallacy despite her knowledge of it. However, understanding its existence and finding ways to manage it can prevent continuous overcommitment and excessive work.

00:36:22 –  Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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