Perfectionists get in their own way when they follow the same planning advice as everyone else. That’s why I’ve recorded a 5-part planning series for the podcast that’ll help you plan properly as a perfectionist.
This planning series is for perfectionists who write and rewrite long to-do lists of business tasks they never start, fall behind because they underestimate how long things will take and have notebooks full of ideas they haven’t done anything with.
This episode (part 1 of the Planning Series) is all about the differences between procrasti-planning and planning properly as a perfectionist. This will help you understand where you’ve been going wrong with planning so you can do something about it.
In this episode, I also dissect common pieces of planning advice (from the top-ranked planning article on Google) and explain why this advice doesn’t work for perfectionists. The episode is worth listening to for this alone.
Find the full episode transcript and show notes at samlaurabrown.com/episode415.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The difference between procrasti-planning, and what it means to be planning properly
- Why to-do lists and time blocking doesn’t work
- Why perfectionists can’t follow the same planning advice as everyone else
- The hidden reasons perfectionists procrasti-plan
- How planning properly will help you get out of the burnout cycle
- How to spot procrasti-planning so you can start planning properly as a perfectionist
Featured In The Episode:
- Join the waitlist for Perfectionists Getting Shit Done (PGSD) – samlaurabrown.com/pgsd
- Take the perfectionism quiz: samlaurabrown.com/quiz
- Sign up for daily Perfectionist Power-Ups – samlaurabrown.com/power
- Follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject
Announcement: PGSD will open for enrollment on 10 September 2023 (for one week only)
My 12-month group coaching program Perfectionists Getting Shit Done (aka PGSD) will teach you how to plan properly as a perfectionist and get out of your own way. The doors to PGSD will open on 10 September 2023 for one week only. To find out more about the program and be the first to know when the doors open, join the waitlist today: samlaurabrown.com/pgsd.
Listen To The Episode
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Hi and welcome to another episode of The Perfectionism Project. A podcast full of perfectionism advice for entrepreneurs. My name is Sam Laura Brown, I help entrepreneurs release their perfectionism handbrake, so they can get out of their own way and build a fulfilling and profitable business. I’m the founder of the Perfectionist Getting Shit Done group coaching program, which is otherwise known as PGSD. And for even more perfectionism advice to help you with your business. You can follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject.
Sam Laura Brown
Okay, so before we get into things, I just want to say a big welcome to this five part Planning Series. This is going to be so helpful if you have been getting in your own way. And it’s really going to help you end the year strong. If you really want to finish 2023 feeling like you have got your shit together, this episode is going to help you do that. And it’s all to celebrate that the doors to perfectionist getting shit done, which is my group coaching program for perfectionist entrepreneurs, is going to be open for enrollment. For our October cohort, the doors will be opening at 6am New York time on the 10th of September and closing at 11:59pm New York time on the 17th of September.
So in this series, I’ll be telling you about PGSD. But ultimately, this is all about how to plan properly as a perfectionist, and really giving you the understanding that you need, so that you are able to start doing that right away. Also, I just want to mention before we get into things that are five parts, as I said, and a new part will be posted every other day here on the perfectionism project. So make sure you subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already. And definitely keep an eye out on your emails. Because I will be sending you some emails that really helped you to make the most of this planning series and also tell you about PGSD. so you don’t miss out on our next opportunity to become a PGSDer. Yeah, so with that said, let’s get into part one.
Okay, so the reality is that the most important skill, when it comes to business, is being able to show up and follow through consistently. Those are the things that you need to be able to do in order to build a successful business. And what I want to teach you with this series, is why perfectionist can’t follow the same planning and productivity advice as everyone else, and what to do about it, how to actually plan properly, as a perfectionist, so that you can get out of your own way, it is not your fault, that you have been getting in your own way that you have been sabotaging your success. But you do need to do something about it, you do need to learn how to actually plan in a way that works for your perfectionist brain, and how to get your perfectionist mindset on your side.
So that’s what I’m going to be teaching you in this five part series. And let’s just quickly go through what those five parts are, I highly recommend listening to all of them. Of course, I’m going to say that but I cover some really important things in each of these parts. To really help you plan properly and have this be something that you were able to do in your business. I don’t want you just learning about this, I want you to be able to actually do it. And especially as well, if you are a solo entrepreneur, for example. And if you work from home, if you have a lot of distractions around you, if you really struggle to be consistent with your marketing and with selling, this series is going to make such a difference for you.
So with this five part series, first of all, in this episode, I’m going to be sharing with you the difference between procrasti-planning, and what it means to be planning properly. In the second part, I’m going to be sharing with you the three steps for how to do power planning, which is a productivity method that I created after years of trial and error and learning all the things from all the productivity experts and mindset experts like how to actually power plan. That’s what I’m going to be sharing with you in that episode. So you know what you need to do to be planning properly, you can really tangibly understand what that means.
In the third part I’m going to be sharing with you how to plan amidst uncertainty. Maybe like me, you have a few little ones I have three kids under the age of three. Regardless of what your life circumstances are, though we all have unexpected things that come up during the week we have ebbs and flows and motivation. Like there are things that stop us or feel like we can’t plan out our week. So I want to address those specifically. So you can really start to get a feel for how power planning provides you with flexible structure that allows you to get shit done even when life happens.
In the fourth part I’m going to be sharing with you what it means to make the three month commitment to power planning and why this is so important. So in the fifth part of this series, I’m going to be sharing with you more about perfectionist getting shit done, aka PGSD, which is my 12 month group coaching program for perfectionist entrepreneurs is going to help you master power planning. So of course I want to tell you about it and invite you into our October cohort, we do a quarterly enrollment, and we have one coming up very soon that I want to tell you about. I want to make sure you know what’s inside PGSD and you can make that decision about whether or not it’s going to be a great fit for you.
So let’s just dive right in procrasti-planning. What is this? Why is it a problem and I’m just going to be sharing with you, as I always do on this podcast, what my experience is, because I know that you might be able to see yourself in it, like our PGSDers able to relate to this so much. And there’s a good chance that by me sharing what my situation was, maybe you can see yourself in it, and you can really start to understand, it’s not your fault. There’s nothing wrong with you, I tried it all to I’ve been where you’ve been. And it’s just really a matter of learning how to plan differently, how to plan in a way that works for your perfectionist brain.
So for me procrasti-planning, which I like to think of, there are two ways to really think about it. So there’s either planning as a form of procrastination, which is when you were just so busy planning, and spending time planning that you aren’t actually then doing the things you need to do. Like it feels good to be productive. And you have so much optimism about how productive your week will be, because you’re writing the to do lists, your color coding things, you’ve got the post it notes, you’ve got the paper planning your time blocking, like you’re doing all those things. And you’re doing that actually as a form of procrastination, that is for sure.
What I used to do, it really just calmed me to be in planning mode. And the other way that you can think about procrasti-planning is that you are planning in a way that enables procrastination, that’s actually making it easier for you to procrastinate during the week, what we want to be doing is planning in a way that makes it easier not to procrastinate, that makes it easier to follow through that makes it easier to do the things that we had said we would do. So I have tried all the things and honestly, I love to do lists like I love planning, I love organizing myself, I love feeling productive, like I love all of that.
And so for example with to do lists, I would rewrite it to do lists so many times, because there were always these tasks following me from the weeks prior. And of course, there was way too much on that list. Like there was no way I was getting all of that done. So I would just need to keep condensing and rewriting and highlighting the priorities and doing all of that with my to do list again and again and again. And I was just writing those same things out and feeling so guilty that I hadn’t done them yet. It was just I had been in that cycle with to do lists for so many years. Also time blocking, time blocking on a digital calendar.
So when we’re power planning we are using a digital calendar. But a very popular way to do it that doesn’t actually work for perfectionist is to be time blocking. And really with that what would happen with me is that I would write out like, you know, do Instagram posts, work on launch, like you know, all the things you’d expect to see in a calendar. And I would fall behind after about three days, like sometimes I even just forgot to look at my calendar. Because it was so overwhelming. I jam packed it. I overscheduled myself so severely. And I just didn’t want to follow through with it. Like I just felt like I had the meanest boss, because I was given this schedule that was so demanding.
And I could never actually follow through on it didn’t account for the fact, my brain needed time off that I needed to have lunch that there was commutes that needed to happen. I did all the color coding, I did post it note things paper planners, like I just really was in this situation where I was spending a lot of time planning, and not a lot of time doing and I thought I had a motivation problem. I thought I needed to mark it in a more aligned way. But when I realized that my perfectionist brain needs my planning to be set up in a certain way for me to be able to follow through and not get in my own way and not put too much pressure on myself and not be overthinking. That’s what changed so much for me.
And let’s just talk about perfectionism as well for a second because my guess is you already identify as a perfectionist, but I just want to make sure that we are on the same page about what perfectionism is. So there are five signs of perfectionism. There’s overthinking, procrastination, burnout, all or nothing thinking and fear of judgment. Those are the five signs that really, we can identify with when we are in that perfectionist mindset because of what perfectionism is.
And I love Brene Brown’s definition of perfectionism in case you don’t know Brene Brown, she is an incredible shame and vulnerability researcher, and she has so many helpful things out there. But her definition of perfectionism is that it’s the belief that if we just look perfect and do everything perfectly, then we can avoid shame, judgment and blame. And that really means and this is now my interpretation of it. And what I’ve learned through my own experience in coaching hundreds of perfectionist entrepreneurs, is that perfectionism is really a strategy to avoid shame. It’s less about doing things perfectly. And it’s more about avoiding doing anything, imperfectly.
And that’s where things like the overthinking comes through, and us spending so much time polishing and perfecting. And doing all those things that we hope will result in a perfect first try. And instant success. When we’re in that perfectionist mindset, we see effort as a sign of inadequacy, we want to be in that growth mindset where we really, truly live by that mantra that it’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. But when we’re in that perfectionist mindset, where in the idea in the reality of it’s better to not try than it is to fail.
So we just want to really understand that being in that mindset isn’t toxic, it’s not something we need to overcome. It’s just really a matter of learning to release your perfectionism handbrake. That’s how I like to think of it, it just really helps to remove the pressure to fix myself. It’s just all my brain is pulling on this perfectionism handbrake because I don’t feel emotionally safe. And when I can create emotional safety through the way that I’m planning, that’s what allows me to show up fully to show up consistently, to do creative things to sell to put myself out there, the way that I plan out my week makes such a big difference and allows me to not have that perfectionism handbrake on.
So when I was not planning properly, I just want to share a few things that I was doing beyond like the planning methods that I was using, like, what was I actually doing when it came to the business. So first of all, I was overcomplicating everything. And it didn’t feel like I was doing that, like I just felt like I really wanted to create high quality free content. And so I would create this elaborate system for doing that I would have a blog post with a matching podcast episode with a matching lead magnet with a matching newsletter, like, I just really wanted to do that perfectly. And that would take up all of the time of my week.
So I didn’t actually have time to be selling anything or doing anything that would actually build the business because I just really wanted to have this perfect free content and to be really consistent with that. And the funny thing is that about I would say 90% of my mental energy was going towards thinking about my marketing strategy, like thinking about things like social media, but you wouldn’t know it from the outside. Because I would go months without even posting anything. And yet every day, I was feeling guilty about not posting and being MIA for so long.
And I would be writing Instagram captions, it would take me instead of like 15 minutes and trusting myself to know what to say or to take me 60 minutes and then half the time, I wouldn’t even post it. So I end up with this Google Doc that had all of these like 80% complete good enough Instagram captions that I just was too scared to publish, I felt like if I’d been away from social media for so long, I need to make sure that when I come back, it’s perfect. And I want to have this runway of content as well. So that when I come back, I can definitely be consistent. Like that was the mindset that I was in when I wasn’t planning properly.
I was also always kind of working and kind of not working. So I was doing laundry on a workday. For example, I was eating lunch at my desk while watching a marketing lesson from a marketing course that I had signed up for. Launches were an emotional roller coaster like I did not like launching, I love launching now. But I did not like it then because I was overworking. There was this last minute rush. And I would just burn myself out completely. And I did really well in school, when I left things to the last minute like I got good grades, it really seemed to work. But when it came to launching, and actually selling and putting myself out there, it was just such an emotional roller coaster.
And I just felt so like desperate to be successful and to have it work. And so helpless when it didn’t because I didn’t know why it didn’t work. And even when it was successful, I didn’t even really know why it was successful. So for example, I would Google advice on things that I already knew about. And basically I already had enough knowledge to teach on, like how to get customers how to get clients, I would find myself searching for that. Because when I did something that worked, it felt like a fluke, because I couldn’t actually deconstruct and understand how I had done it.
I would tell Steve things like I’ll be done in five minutes. Maybe you’ve done this with your partner, Steve is my husband, by the way, but I would tell him like you know, I’ll just be done in five minutes. And then it would be two hours later that I would emerge from my office. I would do marketing courses like really just constantly looking for the right marketing strategy because I thought if I could just be marketing in a way that feels really aligned with me, then I’m not going to have this issue with consistency. I’m not going to have this issue with follows through, it’s just me feeling out of alignment with the marketing or maybe like my money mindset.
Like, if I can just get that in the right place, then I’ll be able to show up consistently, I didn’t really know that there was a really direct way to work on showing up consistently and to actually plan in a way that worked for my brain. And that that would make all the difference. I would work from a cafe, or a co working space to try to be more productive. And there’s no issue with that, like, literally right now, as I’m recording this, I am at a co-working space. But that was my productivity strategy. It wasn’t like what I do now, which is I’m working productively from a co working space, and I could work productively from anywhere.
It’s me, like I was just trying to do anything I could to get myself to be productive and changing my environment or like redoing my office and my desk set up like that was something that felt like it might help me actually be productive and do the things that I knew I needed to do. I was using apps to help me not procrastinate. Some people, for example, might delete the Instagram app. But for me, it was really just having different, like hacks and tricks to help me try to stay focused. And I was in this constant comparison to I just felt so disheartened that I wasn’t further along because I was always so busy. And I’m always thinking about the business like why wasn’t I making more money? Why wasn’t I more successful?
So I found myself constantly comparing myself to people who were further along, and even people who had started after me who are now making way more money than me, and that just, it was so disheartening and discouraging that would make me second guess everything that I was doing, it would like make me get in my own way, even further, I would go to events to help me get into like a CEO mindset. And I just really, ultimately, was always busy. And I was making some progress, like I was making some money.
It took me a good few years to get that to make you money because I was so in my own way I didn’t even realize Initially when I started my business in 2013, that I was a perfectionist and that that was a whole thing. But like once I started to kind of figure things out, I was making progress. But I wasn’t making the progress that I knew that I was capable of making. So I just want to share with you in this episode, an example of popular advice around productivity and planning. That doesn’t work for perfectionist just to really demonstrate why it is that perfectionist need to follow a planning method or have a planning strategy that actually works for your brain.
So this is advice that I found when I Googled how to plan your week. It’s one of the top articles and you’re probably either right now following this advice, or you definitely tried it in the past. But here is the advice. And then I just want to chat quickly about why it doesn’t work and why you might have found yourself getting in your own way when you are following advice like this.
So here’s what it says, start by making a list start your week by making a list of everything you need to get done this week, then look at each item and decide on your four or five biggest priorities for the week. And then you get them done. So this whole idea of like we’ve heard it all before you write a to do list. And then of course, you don’t have time to get all of that done. So you just highlight a few priorities, and then you start working through them.
But what actually happens is that this is going to trigger your all or nothing mindset. And also you probably feel some pressure to make up for past procrastination. And so what’s going to happen is you end up writing this to do list and you might go through and prioritize. But you probably honestly feel like everything’s important. This could also just be as well. A big part of this is having an issue with your goal setting and you’re not goal setting in a way that works for your perfectionist brain. So you aren’t really able to prioritize everything feels really important.
You’re like, Okay, I need to start with these things that I’ve been putting off. So maybe it’s, for example, start a podcast, like I need to make sure I get that done this week. And you end up just highlighting like a few really big and vague things. And maybe there’s one or two little like, very small add many things you need to do. But most likely, you are going to be highlighting those big things that you’ve been putting off and have been following you from, to do lists to to do lists to do lists.
And then what’s going to happen after you write that to do list and you prioritize is that you’re going to feel so overwhelmed. I know what that feels like, I know that I’m wishing well. Overwhelm really becomes the emotional home of perfectionist in so many ways. But you are going to feel overwhelmed. And like you don’t even know where to start and say for example, starting a podcast maybe that’s one of the things that you have highlighted, that you like it’s such a big task. And even if you break it down like it still feels so hard to get started that what you end up doing is busy work.
You just end up prioritizing the things that yes, they need to get done. They are important in running the business, but maybe it’s things like checking email or your Instagram or like TikTok or whatever social media on checking those stats and just like doing all of these periphery activities, rather than the actual thing and you’re kind of like getting ready to get ready and like getting your ducks in a row, so that you have a big chunk of time to get focus. It’s this idea of like, I just need to get on top of everything else and like get these other things out of the way. And then I can focus, but then you feel guilty, because you aren’t actually doing that thing that you know you need to do.
And so what you might then do is attempt those priorities. So for example, attempt to make a start on the podcast. But now it’s like the end of the week, if you have any time at all to do it, you definitely don’t have enough time to do it. And then you feel behind at the end of the week, you’ve been busy and pressured and stressed the whole week, but you haven’t got further along. And so what then happens is we write an even longer to do list the next week, and we have even more pressure around those important needle movers.
And it just goes on repeat this cycle, the burnout cycle, I like to think of it as like that write the long to do list, feel overwhelmed, do busy work, feel guilty, attempt the needle mover, feel behind right the to do list again and again. And again, like that is not because you have some kind of motivation issue, or because you aren’t good enough to have a business or smart enough to have a real business is just because you’re not planning in a way that supports your perfectionist mindset.
And you might have other things influencing your ability to be productive and to focus, you might have kids, you might have other kinds of distractions going on. Maybe you have neurodivergent, and like all of that kind of thing. But honestly, like your ability to plan properly as a perfectionist is going to have such a profound influence on your ability to build a successful business. And when you’re power planning, you’ll be showing up you’ll be doing that consistently.
You’ll trust yourself, you’ll be able to rest without feeling guilty, you’re not going to feel overwhelmed anymore, you’re not going to feel behind and you’re not going to be feeling as well like you can’t replicate your success is feeling that you don’t have a real business or that it’s a fluke like that comes when you aren’t actually planning in a way that allows you to really understand what’s working and really see that you do know what you’re doing. So in the next episode in the next part of this series, I’m going to be sharing how to plan properly as a perfectionist I’m going to be sharing the three steps of power planning so that you know enough to be able to begin doing it so I will talk to you there.
Before you go I want to make sure you know that the doors to my group coaching program for perfectionist entrepreneurs called perfectionist getting shit done aka PGSD are going to be opening at 6am New York time on the 10th of September 2023 But only for one week only. So if you want to be the first to know when the doors open or to find out more about the program, you can go to samlaurabrown.com/pgsd.