Three Steps to Overcome "Paralysis of Analysis"

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Think about:

There you sit, staring at your desk. There are piles of work–reports to write, messages to return, letters to type–you fill in the blank.

You’re paralyzed in thought because you don’t know what to do next. They all seem important, urgent even. Experts call this paralysis of analysis. Here’s the Wikepedia definition:

“Analysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises.”

So how can you use a timer to get moving when faced with several options? Here are three suggestions.

  1. Set a timer for five minutes and do something that will reduce your stress. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in five minutes. At the very least, organize the piles of work so your desktop is less cluttered. Go get a fresh cup of coffee. Use the restroom. Wipe out those 10 emails that feel like mosquitos hovering. Just be prepared to STOP after 5 minutes. (This also applies at home. Keep yourself in one room for five minutes and pick up, gather, etc. before moving on to another. That’s a tip from our book, Organizing from the Heart.)
  1. Set the timer for three minutes to think through what larger project you are going to do now.Take the momentum you got from your five minute sweep and pick one project to direct it to. Make sure you have everything you need nearby to attack it. Don’t overthink it. Maybe you do need to do the urgent thing that is due in two hours. But if there isn’t anything due within two hours what’s the most important thing? What will either make you feel less stressed, or will contribute most to the advancement of your business today? Ask yourself: in two hours, what will I be most happy about having gotten done or gotten past?
  2. Set the timer again, this time for a longer period that allows you to accomplish a good bit–or all–of the task. For example, if you are supposed to pre-load social media updates for your company for a week, and it usually takes you 30 minutes, set the timer for that and stay focused on the task. If it takes you an hour to write a weekly report, set it for 60 minutes and get to work!

When you’ve completed step three, go back and repeat the process as needed throughout your day!

[Tweet “A timer is your friend!”]A timer is your friend!

Remember:  Here’s another post about using a timer: The 7 Minute Organizing Challenge

Benefit from: A timer app that I have found helpful is Alarm Clock Xtreme. Photo above is a screen shot of one of the screens.

Share: which of your colleagues would benefit from some encouragement about prioritizing and getting things done? Share this with your friend or networks today and tell them to subscribe to receive 11 Strategies for a Less Stressful, More Productive Workday – a free printable!

Join in (at the blog or on social media): When’s the last time you used a timer? Why? Was it helpful? Join the conversation at the blog or on social media.

Also enjoy (although I have looked over the recommended blog posts by other bloggers in my “Also Enjoy” section below, that does not mean I endorse all contents of any other website/blog you link to from my site):

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