over analyzing cripple productivity

While increased choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater anxiety, indecision and paralysis.
–  Psychologist Barry Schwartz; Ted Talk

As I was thinking about what to write for my next Pulse article, I noticed a constant pivoting between topics, research and brainstorming – only to look at my screen and see that I hadn’t written much.

Then it hit me…”Analysis Paralysis

Something we all suffer from but many of us aren’t even aware we are experiencing this sensation that can cripple our productivity and halt our forward progress.

We live in a world of over-searching everything and with Google, it’s readily become the fastest pathway to sites like Wikipedia and a million other sites to answer the questions that plague us on a daily basis. Although there’s more access to high-quality information to help us make those decisions, it hasn’t made decision-making any easier. We can now research the pros and cons of every option available to us spending hours and sometimes days online. This chasing of our tails can lead to the potential of making the wrong decision or no decision at all.

Here are 8 of the most common signs you over analyze everything:

  1. You Second (Or Triple) Guess Yourself.
    Whether it’s making sure the lights are off at home, the gas on the stove is off or making sure your car door is locked, the fear of a potential failed outcome can drive a person into a panic. Uncertainty is the one thing our brains look to avoid at all costs. There is no clear short cut here outside of seeking more information to fill in whatever gaps exist as this will ease your brain and begin to build some patience and most importantly confidence within yourself.
  2. You Take Things Personally.
    No one likes to be insulted but many times we “think” someone may have offended us when in doubt that’s not the case and the person didn’t mean to be insulting or rude. Not every comment is directed towards you. If you find yourself offended, first find some peace within and then look to ask another person who may have been there for their opinion. If there wasn’t any, then when you feel more at ease, responsibly ask the other person for clarification.
  3. You Are A Perfectionist.
    “I got it” is your mantra and everything has to be your definition of perfect. You know what it should look, feel, smell and act like and no one can offer you support as you “got it” and have already figured out the matter at hand. Try actively seeking out the support of others and begin building the muscle of connectivity and inclusion. A fun bonus is to grab some play-dough and just make a mess and create with no rules (emphasis on messy).
  4. You Are Haunted By The Fear Of The Unknown.
    The uncertainty of ‘what could be’ or ‘might be’ tends to occupy your daily thoughts and sometimes nightly. As per sign number #1 above, the uncertainty ravages your free time leaving you on high alert. Talk to someone (you trust), which could be a professional as there could be an underlying issue that needs attention.
  5. You Constantly Think Of Worst Case Scenarios.
    Life is unpredictable – the sooner you get on board with this, the sooner you will be happier. Multiple studies out there have proven time and again that over 99% of the horrible things we think could happen never do. Instead focus on the goodness in front of you and keep a journal (especially at night), as this will help you sleep better.
  6. You Are Not (In The) Present.
    No one can predict the future but you can control your actions in the present point in time and this can impact how your future may unfold. If you focusing solely on the future you miss out on all the great things that are happening in your life today – in the present. If you catch yourself drifting off, bring yourself back. One neat trick is to tie a colorful ribbon on your opposite wrist as a reminder to be present.
  7. You Blow Small Things (Way) Out Of Proportion.
    Understanding “all” the facts in any scenario is critical to ensuring a smooth and friendly outcome when confronted with a situation, circumstance or person. Focusing on the details has it’s place in time but more often than not, if you find yourself hanging out in the shallow end of the pool, it may be time to go explore the deep end and gain some perspective. From there, look for the commitment, goal or ask yourself “will this matter in one day from now?” before going to far down the rabbit hole.
  8. You Take Every ‘No’ As A Personal Rejection.
    We all want to believe the world revolves around us but it’s not the case and sometimes things happen for reasons that have nothing to do with you. If you are someone that takes such rejection personally then you are certainly an over thinker. Look to understand why you received the “no” before making it about you.

Final thoughts:
Unless you’ve figured out a way to shut off your brain (and still be alive of course) – your brains natural hardwiring for analyzing data will continue. The real question is, “how much data and for how long?” Obsessive patterns like non-stop analyzing can potentially lead to more problems such as a lack of creativity, will power or worse depression and anxiety disorders. Here’s a great article on how to shift this behavior starting today. If you liked my article, please share it amongst your network and by all means, don’t over analyze my request 🙂

The floor is yours:
What else are common causes of  analysis paralysis?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Please click ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from me in the future.