Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Disorder

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Disorder? Or (OCPD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Disorder, or (OCPD), is characterized by obsessions about the future and usually involves repetitive thoughts and methodological behaviors.

OCPD is not always a bad thing, many with this habit or disorder get a lot more done in one day because they are constantly planning ahead, writing things down, and planning for the future.

Some early signs of OCPD are: counting, repeated checking, and methodically task writing/checking. The overall goal of people with OCPD is to rid their future of uncertainty and to literally plan everything ahead of time so that there are no surprises in their future.

The downside of OCPD is that no one can know the future which means those who have OCPD are often disappointed or frustrated that life is not going according to plan. According to, “nearly 60% of the project manager population suffers from OCPD.”

Do You think You have OCPD?

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  • Maybe
  • I'm not sure
  • No
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Is it Real?

Like many other conditions with long names that are shortened to letters OCPD can sound unrealistic and like an un-problem, especially to those who do not have that kind of problem in the first place. I too was skeptical about conditions like this being a real thing and having those conditions be actual problems for people. But then I realized that these types of conditions, problems, disorders, whatever you want to call them; are not always characterized by simply being good or bad.

You can have a mild case of OCPD or other similar conditions and not be affected much or even realize you have it. You could have a severe case but still be able to function and be just fine in the real world.

In other words, OCPD is very real, you may have it, and sometimes recognizing or understanding more about yourself can help you to improve yourself. Having OCPD is not a bad thing unless you are allowing it to take over and control your life.

Signs of OCPD

  1. Obsessions/compulsions when thinking about the future
  2. The planning of these obsessions/compulsions is strangely satisfying
  3. Planning also accompanied by high stress levels
  4. Planning multiple times in multiple ways
  5. Unable to remember plans without written details
  6. Constant re-shaping/re-writing/re-vamping original plans

Future Planning

Future Planning
Future Planning | Source

What Causes OCD?

1. Obsessions/Compulsions When Thinking about the Future

The levels of brain chemicals in the areas of the brain that deal with anxiety, habit formation, and skill learning are actually thought to be a bit abnormal in people with OCPD. This seems to make sense because those with OCPD have obsessions/compulsions when they are thinking about future dates, events, and tasks.

Basically, the first sign that you have OCPD is that you will be obsessed with thinking about the future. You become excited, nervous, or compulsive when thinking about the future. And having multiple future possibilities makes you anxious.

2. The Planning of these Obsessions/Compulsions is Strangely Satisfying

The first sign of OCPD is having obsessions/compulsions when contemplating the future, the second sign of OCPD is that the planning of those compulsions or obsessions is strangely addicting and satisfying to you.

Actually planning out the future comforts you because you are able to write it down, have a plan, and be sure of some things. The only problem with this is that no one can ever be sure about what the future is going to bring and that means writing down and planning your future, though satisfying, can also bring on feelings of frustration and anxiety.

3. Planning Also Accompanied by High Stress Levels

A third sign that says you may have OCPD is that planning for the future brings on feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety. As mentioned in sign number two, you feel good when you write things down and plan ahead, but the fact that no plans for the future are ever concrete will give you high levels of stress.

Personally, my stress level tends to go down a bit once I am able to write down my goals, tasks, plans for the near future but the anxiety comes slowly after that which makes me feel like I need to plan even more, again and again.

Planning in Multiple Ways

Planning in Multiple Ways
Planning in Multiple Ways | Source

4. Planning Multiple Times in Multiple Ways

Another sign of OCPD is feeling the need to plan multiple times in multiple ways. For example, I have four different task, goal, event lists at any given time on any given day.

Here is a list of the ways in which I plan:

  • I have a list of events in a day-planner
  • I write a list of weekly goals/tasks I want to accomplish on notebook paper which I also place in my planner
  • I then write a daily set of goals/tasks I want to accomplish on the other side of the notebook paper where the weekly goals have been written
  • I also have an excel document that lists (in great detail) my future plans and goals for the next 5 years which is then broken down by year, then by month, then by week, then by day
  • If I am feeling extremely (planny) I will even write out a list of weekend goals

Write it Down

Write it Down
Write it Down | Source

5. Unable to Remember Plans without Written Details

Another sign of OCPD is that you are unable to remember your plans without checking your planner or other written details. Examples of obsessions include worrying about things (especially anticipated things) that are not well-planned or in-order and in order to get rid of obsessions some people will try things like constantly checking or counting. This is especially true for those who check or count for things in the future, obviously this is not a cure for obsession because the future cannot be planned.

To Do List

To Do List
To Do List | Source

6. Constant Re-Shaping/Re-Writing/Re-Vamping Original Plans

The last sign, that I know of, for OCPD is feeling the constant need to re-shape, re-write, and re-vamp your original future plans.

This happens for two reasons, the first is that the future is constantly changing and if your plans are even slightly outdated it drives you crazy which makes you want/need to re-do all of your plans.

The second reason is that simply writing it down once is not enough, if you are truly OCPD then you will feel the need to write it down, talk about it, or share your plans more than once.

Even if it is just one small aspect of the future that has changed, you will feel the need to re-do all of your plans to account for that change.

Good and Bad

Good and Bad
Good and Bad | Source

My Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Problem/Ability

I most definitely have OCPD and it does affect my life, at times it can be a really big problem, other times I like to see it as one of my abilities or qualities.

The bad:

  • Sometimes I am so focused on planning my life that I forget to actually live my life
  • I cannot stop planning
  • When something in the plan is modified/altered/changed I immediately have to account for it and re-do my plans
  • I get frustrated when my plans do not work out or I am unable to finish everything on my task list
  • I feel the need to plan multiple times throughout the day and the week
  • I set unrealistic goals for myself

The Good:

  • I am extremely good at planning
  • I can account for any and all of my time
  • I am able to plan ahead for change
  • I am flexible because I can change the plans easily
  • I set realistic goals as well
  • Setting and reaching goals makes me feel accomplished

So, do you have OCPD? Do you think it is a good thing? A bad thing? Or maybe both?


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

My obsession is in not being good enough. In order to combat it, I, too, do excessive planning and preparing. I have rituals that I have set up for every part of my life so that I don't forget something important. If I am unable to do the ritual for some reason, I nearly fall apart. It can be annoying, but at the same time, I am very good at organizing and planning!

Madison Resare profile image

Madison Resare 19 months ago Author

It can be both a blessing and a curse! :)

Steve Moore 18 months ago

I'm 45 epileptic since I was19 and had a stroke when I was 38 I also have AF which after surgery I hope worked.

I also re plan everything 2-3 times a day for the next day verbally yo my wife and have to be on time with everything or I explode.

Madison Resare profile image

Madison Resare 18 months ago Author

Wow, I hope your surgery was helpful! :)

Aimee 17 months ago

I am 14 and I end up planning everything, it calms me and eases stress but I often find my self anxious when I haven't planned something. No one else I know is like it :/

Sbee 14 months ago

Well it certainly sounds like I have OCPD! :/ I am always planning ahead and have to do lists, meal plans, lists of things I need to buy / to do etc. I just don't feel like I'm living or enjoying the present because I'm too busy planning the future. I have tried not planning etc, but I then feel really anxious and on edge. I just don't know what to do to help!?

Danni 13 months ago

There's not a lot of information out there on Obsessive planning, but I definitely do have this and have suffered with this for years. I say suffer, because I've wasted so much of my life planning, writing lists, re-planning, setting unrealistic targets, planning some more, not making a decision until it's been planned - and then still not making it, setting targets, re-setting targets...& I've even written a list here ;) it's not good, becuase I never actually complete anything and I'm just so frustrated but cannot find a way out of it. Does anyone know if this is classed as OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder? I seem to have traits from both categories. Also...and this is the BIG one...does anybody know how to stop being like this? :( I'm about to embark on yet another unrealistic life plan that will take up days and days of my time and will give me about 2-3 weeks gratification until I feel the need to 'start again' again! I don't even know where to start to get help.

Some guy 10 months ago

Has anyone with OCPD tried the Getting Things Done methodology? I'd be curious to know if that helps with stress or makes it worse.

My ex-wife had OCPD, and I found it exhausting. Every single thing had to be planned, and then the plan spoken to me over and over and over until she felt comfortable with it. And then the instant anything changed, or didn't go according to plan, the entire plan had to be reworked and given to me over and over and over...

If I was exhausted, I can only imagine what it would be like having OCPD.

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