Are You a Planner or a Doer?

One thing I’ve learned from my marriage of 17 years is how well planners and doers work together. I pride myself on being a planner; I am all budgeting, scheduling and list-building. It compliments my husband’s doer personality perfectly; he is all action. Here’s an example:

I was traveling with my two youngest children, shortly after my fourth baby was born, when my car broke down leaving us stranded on a busy road with no public buildings in site.

Our family relies on one cell phone (partly because we’re frugal and partly because we’re old-fashioned), and on the day we broke down, I was not carrying it. Fortunately, there are many good Samaritans who are willing to help a woman next to a broken down car carrying a toddler and toting an infant. The first man to pull over offered me use of his cell phone.

I called my husband at work (already anticipating how the call would go). He answered the phone at his desk, and I calmly said, “The car broke down, and we need you to come pick us up.”

Behind his, “Okay! I’m on my way!” I could literally hear him spring to his feet and launch into action, stretching the cord of the phone as he lunged for the door. Prepared for his reaction, I said …

Wait! You need to know where we’re at first.

I was then able to tell him precisely where to find us, not only because I’m such a good planner (I had planned the phone call, after all), but also because I’ve come to know and love his doer ways. For instance, I know that doers will often leap before looking, especially when they’re excited or scared.

Are you a planner or a doer?


If I say I want to go to the store, my husband gets dressed and starts the car. I equally love and hate that about him. I love it because I get to the store and finish the errand that day, and I hate it because it rushes me out the door before I’ve planned the trip.

When my husband and I are apart, as we were this time last year when I moved home ahead of him from New Zealand, I realize how much gets accomplished when he’s around. I’d take the scenic route over the turnpike any day, but my husband is less journey, more destination.

A planner’s pitfall is that one scenic route leads to another. And another. And another until the destination is nothing but a faint memory and another goal left unfinished.

This is a timely subject for me because one of my new clients in The Summer Shift is very much a planner. Never mind that she’s also taking another very informative course aside from my own. Within days, she reported that she’d already devoured all of the welcome materials, Shop Fundamentals and the archives of my blog. Could she also have a copy of Advertising and Exposure? Thank you very much. 

By the way, there’s a week’s worth of information in the welcome package. Her response was, “Check! Next?” She’s a planner.

I secretly adore her researching, information-gathering ways because they’re so very similar to my own, but I can already tell I’ll have to coach more action into her.

Left to our own devices, we planners will make to-do lists, build idea notebooks, and buy countless informational products. It’s a vicious cycle of gather and consume with very little implementation applied.

On the other hand, doers like my husband will launch into action right away, and their lack of planning can cost them precious energy and resources. When I agree to my husband’s pace (which feels very rushed to me), we forget important things. Things that could have saved us time and money with only a few extra minutes’ worth of planning.

The key to a successful creative business is finding balance between planning and doing. When planners set deadlines and implement what they’ve learned by doing, they get better results. When doers make a commitment to plan before they execute, they get better results.

[Tweet “The question is: Are you a planner or a doer? via @_LisaJacobs_”]

My client, the planner I mentioned earlier, got me to thinking. I’m going to create a new end-game for my group coaching clients to help planners do, and to help doers plan. It’s going to be a life-changer for the participants, and I know it will produce some rut-busting, sky-rocketing results.

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  • Thanks so much for this article. It very much resonated with me as I am a planner all the way through. And I always have lots of windows open on my laptop reading many different things and yet I never seem to get to the tasks of updating my shop store among other things. Now that I understand my affliction 🙂 I think I can do a better job of trying to balance things out. Thanks!

  • Now, this is an interesting one. I love strategising and thinking work. I get caught up in it really easily. I hate detail. I think this makes me a planner, and as I pretty much covered off all the classes in last autumn’s BaBCB course as they came live but am only just getting to the final stages of implementing what I learned in the first few classes -yes, I must be a planner!

  • I am very much a planner. Ever since I can remember, I have found GREAT comfort in making lists. Even if I only cross a few things off my list… I love to make them! If I don’t plan things out I will forget what it is that I am even supposed to do.

    Knowing how to be more action oriented would be super helpful. Most days I have every intention of being all action because I already planned everything out but then I sit and plan more and time slips away and before you know it, it’s dark out.

    Sometimes I say “enough is enough!” and just hop to it but that’s because I’ve put off my to-do list long enough. I’m not sure if it all stems from fear or from just not knowing how to kick my butt into gear without a serious deadline motivating me.

    Okay, that was long. Sorry. :/

  • Great post! I’m a planner/researcher! I can research, make lists, plan, plan, plan, and so on…..but I never get anything DONE! In fact, I had so many planners, of all shapes and sizes, that I lovingly referred to them as my planner graveyard. Embarrassing!

    I’ve had a super PLAN for my creative business but it’s been a plan for a couple years!! gah, I’m lame! Seriously, I need help! Is there a counselor in the house? Oh yeah, Lisa – it’s you! I need you! Tell me what to do!

  • Wow, this post was very thought provoking and eye opening. I have always considered myself a “go-getter” but often fall into the trap of doing too much and burning out. I realize after reading this that I plan too much at times and do to much at times; you are spot on…I need a good balance. What’s the point of collecting all that good info and planning lists if I am not going to test implementing them right away? THANK YOU for calling e out on this. I just discovered your blog early this morning from the Going Home to Roost blog and I’ve read several posts so far. Lisa…you’ve got yourself a new fan. Thank you.

  • I’m so glad I found this post! I’m a planner. I have multiple windows open on my laptop with info to read. I’ve been devouring the info on your site for almost a month. But I haven’t DONE anything towards making my business better. I guess I need to find a better balance and learn how to put all this info into action!

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