Planning Fallacy 101: Research and Debiasing

Hi everyone,

I’ve been working on a primer for the planning fallacy, which goes over the research behind things as well as 3 techniques to improve planning.

I reached out the Beeminder team to see if this was something they might be interested in helping publicize. Daniel suggested I share it here first.

Here’s the actual link on Medium.

I’d be happy to see what the community here things about pairing these sorts of planning skills with the sort of precommitment Beeminder offers.


For one, Beeminder offers a great way to collect the sorts of data that lead to better planning in the future. It also gives real-time feedback about whether you’re achieving what you’d set out to do by putting in the expected level of effort. If not, you can either adjust your plan while it’s still in the early stages, or change how much energy you’re putting towards it.

I like the idea of back-planning. From my personal experience, I suspect that the primary benefit I’d get from it is applying my freshest, most detailed planning to the last stages of the project - the ones where I actually have the least information about the process. Often when I make step-by-step plans, the first stages are very detailed. As I move along in the project, though, there often comes a point where many of the steps are too tied to previous aspects to fully flesh out the details. That’s where I start hand-waving and making baseless guesses, and that’s also usually the point when the plan breaks down. But the end of a project is where all of those possibilities converge to a clearly defined outcome again, and there are definite steps that need to happen to get there - steps I would have never reached working my way from the beginning of the project.


Great post and great comment as well. I’d like to add that, for me, beeminder really shows me how scarce my time and attention really are. A week has only 168 hours, two full days make up the week end, we need to sleep a whole lot in a weeks time, too. Seeing how much stuff I’d like to achieve in a week (represented as beeminder deadlines), while being very much aware that I don’t want to burn myself out, makes me seriously pessimistic (in a good way) about piling on extra projects, etc. In those five work days that are left, I barely can do anything, that isn’t the absolute minimum, or an absolute must. This in turn helps with being extremely circumspect what to add to my plate.