Planning Your Way Out of the No-Plan Cycle

What's the No-Plan Cycle? How can you avoid falling into its trap? And most importantly, if you've already fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole—how do you get back out?


Life is ironic in ways like this: in writing this article about the No-Plan Cycle, I unintentionally method acted (wrote?) my way through the No-Plan Cycle itself, just in case my years as a writer (and unwilling procrastinator) hadn’t already provided me with the experience necessary to write authoritatively on the subject (they did).

Despite the frustration, the exercise in irony did serve a grander purpose: it made sure the No-Plan Cycle was as fresh in my mind, and as realistic, as possible as I wrote about it.

But this little intro is worthless if you aren’t aware of what the No-Plan Cycle is, so allow me to introduce you (and only at three paragraphs in, no less. Not bad):

The No-Plan Cycle is the terror of every course developer ever. Okay, a little too existential of an explanation, got it. Here’s a more traditional explainer: the No-Plan Cycle is the series of unfortunate events that unfold when you set out to create the course of your dreams, and don’t have a plan in place. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: An Optimistic Start

Ah, the fleeting goodwill that accompanies the beginning of every project. The potential it has! For: money, fame, advancement, improvement, insert the accomplishment of your personal goals here, etc. For me, I was optimistic about accomplishing the most important thing an employee (and writer) can do: meet their deadline.

The problem with this, of course, is the fleeting part. The ultimate optimism killer? A lack of a plan. And so the cycle begins.