You can use the noun planning to talk about the process of making a plan. Your elaborate tree house project will require hours of planning before you hammer a single nail into a piece of wood.

Planning is the act of getting ready for something to happen — you might find that the planning for the prom and the excitement it brings is as fun as the event itself. During planning for any event, you figure out what things you will need, how long it will take, and what you will do if anything goes wrong. For a cook, planning might include finding and measuring all ingredients, gathering the pots and pans they will need, even checking that the stove works!

Definitions of planning
  1. noun
    an act of formulating a program for a definite course of action
    “the planning was more fun than the trip itself”
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    birth control, birth prevention, family planning
    limiting the number of children born
    programing, programming, scheduling
    setting an order and time for planned events
    coitus interruptus, onanism, pulling out, withdrawal, withdrawal method
    a method of birth control in which coitus is initiated but the penis is deliberately withdrawn before ejaculation
    natural family planning
    any of several methods of family planning that do not involve sterilization or contraceptive devices or drugs; coitus is avoided during the fertile time of a woman's menstrual cycle
    contraception, contraceptive method
    birth control by the use of devices (diaphragm or intrauterine device or condom) or drugs or surgery
    type of:
    preparation, readying
    the activity of putting or setting in order in advance of some act or purpose
  2. noun
    the act or process of drawing up plans or layouts for some project or enterprise
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    city planning, town planning, urban planning
    determining and drawing up plans for the future physical arrangement and condition of a community
    type of:
    design, designing
    the act of working out the form of something (as by making a sketch or outline or plan)
  3. noun
    the cognitive process of thinking about what you will do in the event of something happening
    “his planning for retirement was hindered by several uncertainties”
    synonyms: preparation, provision
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    agreement, arrangement
    the thing arranged or agreed to
    the planning that is disrupted when someone `upsets the applecart'
    malice aforethought, mens rea
    (law) criminal intent; the thoughts and intentions behind a wrongful act (including knowledge that the act is illegal); often at issue in murder trials
    calculation, deliberation
    planning something carefully and intentionally
    forethought, premeditation
    planning or plotting in advance of acting
    secret agreement
    something arranged in advance
    (law) thought and intention to commit a crime well in advance of the crime; goes to show criminal intent
    type of:
    cerebration, intellection, mentation, thinking, thought, thought process
    the process of using your mind to consider something carefully
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