overwhelmed analysis paralysis

Getting Started Is Key

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Last Updated on July 12, 2018

One of the most profound pieces of advice that I have read recently is:

Empirically, it’s not just for other people that you need to start small. You need to for your own sake. Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg knew at first how big their companies were going to get. All they knew was that they were onto something. – Paul Graham

This really hit home with me for many reasons, but mainly for two reasons:

  1. I was thinking so much about the best way to get started, that I still haven’t started…
  2. When you look at the full scope of a project, it’s scary!

It’s Not Perfect, So I Can’t Launch It

Failure to LaunchHow many times have you had a seemingly good idea, you obsessed over that idea, and then you never even started on the project? The chances are that this has likely happened to you at least once, and likely many times.

The term for this is analysis paralysis, and it is exactly that – a paralysis. And you and I are not the only the only people that have this issue. The best advice I’ve read for dealing with this analysis paralysis was also from Paul Graham:

Empirically, the way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.

I have always done my best work when I just get started with something very small. For example, I knew I needed to write at least one blog post this week… So, I started by immersing myself in Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit trying to find interesting topics to talk about. In the process, I ran across a post by Buffer titled, “10 of the Most Counterintuitive Pieces of Advice from Famous Entrepreneurs.” It really struck a chord with me, and now I’m here.

I could’ve racked my brain trying to come up with the perfect topic, but I likely wouldn’t have been happy with anything I came up with and the post might never have been written.

Alternatively, when you do have a great big plan, you can simply just get to it. Do the first thing that comes to mind, get it down on paper on a digital notepad. Materialize it in physical or digital form.

It’s Too Much, How Will I Ever Finish?

overwhelmed analysis paralysisSometimes I miss the simplicity of childhood; being told what to do and when to do it was so easy. As an adult, it seems that no decision is simple. Even a simple blog post has many parts such as doing research, finding appropriate images, optimizing a post for SEO, and emailing your list.

As you think through a project and come up with a list of tasks, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not get started on a project. Even Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women in the world has said that had she known how hard it would be to start a TV network, she might have done something else.

The simplest solution that I have found for this is to come up with a small list of tasks and start with the low hanging fruit (the easiest tasks to complete). This will help you to establish momentum enough that you stay focused. Worry about the extra list of tasks as they come up.

While some may argue that this is shortsighted, I content that this will help keep you motivated and feeling less overwhelmed.

What Do You Think?

The key point that I’d like to impart to you thinks lean and just get started!

With that in mind, what did you think of this post? Have you struggled with over-thinking projects and not getting started?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and any suggestions.

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.