Are you an overthinker? Do you ever get stuck in a rut, unable to do anything because you can’t stop thinking about the next best action? This is called analysis paralysis and it happens when you’re thinking too much and doing too little.
Analysis paralysis happens to me from time-to-time because I tend to be a perfectionist. I want everything to work out as I envisioned so much so that sometimes I get stuck figuring out how to get there. From my experiences, this type of overthinking is dangerous to productivity, so it’s important to stop it once it starts to happen. Here’s how.
1. Give Up on Perfection
If your analysis paralysis comes from your desire for perfection, too, then you may need to adjust your thinking in order to get past it. Realize that perfection isn’t realistic and that all you can do is complete the task at hand with your best efforts.
2. Revisit Past Wins
Think back on some of your biggest successes and consider how taking action got you to the finish line. Follow that same routine now to kickstart action in your current situation.
3. Emulate a Role Model
We all know someone who seems to get many things done painlessly every single time. Make list of what you think his or her process is that makes them so successful and replicate it.
4. Conduct a Brain Dump
Sometimes analysis paralysis comes from having an overly busy brain with too many thoughts bouncing around. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (or a fresh Word document on your computer) and just start jotting down everything you are thinking. Getting these thoughts out of your head and written in black and white can help you focus.
5. Use a Personal Mantra
If you confidence is lagging, you are more likely to face analysis paralysis. Boost yourself up by creating a mantra that inspires you and gives you the confidence to move forward. It can be something as simple as, “I think I can, I think I can,” or you can create something that is personal and meaningful to you.
6. Take a Break
Walking away can do wonders for your ability to take action. Allow yourself to be distracted for a little while or get a change of scenery in order to get refocused.
7. Create a Map
Writing step-by-step lists is one way that always seems to get me centered. I find that taking action is easier if I create a roadmap that gets me from where I am now to where I want to be, then I follow it one step at a time.
8. Think of the Big Picture
When all else fails, remember that this is just one moment in time, and is only a piece of the puzzle. Your action now will lead to many more actions in the future, so there’s no point is waiting to move forward — you’re only prolonging the steps that will be necessary in the future. Starting now is always better than tomorrow.
Next time you find yourself overthinking, try one or more of these actions to get moving again. You can also try creating your own list of motivating activities that you know are effective at getting you out of analysis paralysis. Keep it handy so next time you get stuck, you know exactly what you need to do.