Planning vs Pain

This is a forever, People have said to me in the past “Can I be successful if I don’t plan?” the answer is simply “Yes you can!” BUT and it is a big but

“You will spend too long in the pain zone!”

If you think about sportsmen, they spend the majority of their time planning and practicing to play – in the sales environment we are one of the only areas which just give you a list of calls or clients and say “Go and practice live in front of them!”

This remark about preparing to perform a task is usually assigned to Abraham Lincoln. See this link:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

So, the preparation has always been the key!

The best story

The best story I heard was that Tom Daley spent 4 years planning for 40 seconds of execution to become top of his sport. This was the time Tom spent actually in the air completing his 6 Olympic dives.

Planning vs Pain

For every given task in the diagram below t1, has the same amount of time no matter if it is apex up or down. The top portion is always the planning area, the bottom is the “Pain Zone!”.


In business the more time you spend in planning, the less time you will spend in the Pain Zone,. The project or task will run smoother and the cost will be lower in terms of cash, resources and manpower.

But who will give you the time to plan?

The answer is…  only you!

Most people can find a million things they would rather do than spend time planning, but it really does bring big benefits.

For any task – represented by the triangle t1 above – if you don’t plan, the time taken to execute will typically take more time – if however, you can flip it over so that the biggest part is above the pain line then the execution will generally run more smoothly and cost less to deliver, plus it will ensure you have more time for planning the next task.

You must make time for planning. This is down to you and your attitude.


I used to put ‘Meeting with Dave’ into my diary – firstly so that no-one would try to sneak a meeting in on the grounds “oh he’s only planning – I’m sure he can spare me 5 minutes” and secondly because I always had lots of current issues and tasks which needed to be complete before I could devote myself to planning.

I also found it better to take my planning away from my normal work zone – get a coffee and set a timer – this ensured I spent the necessary time on the task without getting distracted.

You need to work out your ideal timings in terms of when and where to plan. What is the best time of day for you [read more here]

This lack of planning can also lead to ‘fire-fighting’ where more resources are required in the mid-term because poorer decisions were made on the rush without enough time to consider all the options – you should try to generate at least 3 options

Read why here

There is always

More Than One Answer