Paralysis by analysis

The most crucial part of any project is taking the first Analysisstep after planning. Those projects where the first steps are taken have a good chance to be successful; those that are analyzed over and over again will remain ideas and plans. Analysis is often a form of procrastination and it is perceived as the first step of a certain undertaking: writing a book, doing a weight-loss program, going on a journey, starting a new business, applying for a new job, learning a new language or a new skill, acquiring a new habit or changing a bad one, etc. Everyone is a victim of their own analysis paralysis to a certain extent.

While it is true that if you fail to prepare then you can prepare to fail, over-analysis in the form of preparation is the perfect project killer before its launch.

The good news is that overcoming this problem is quite easy.

First, you must ask and answer honestly: do you really want to do it? If the answer is no, don’t even go any further. Spend your time and energy doing something more productive, or at least something that you enjoy doing. Being able to decide what you don’t want to do is an integral part of productivity.

If the answer is yes, follow these few simple steps:

  • Identify the absolute necessary steps that must be taken to make the project a success;
  • Identify the actions that cannot wait until later in order to get started and write them down as action-items in your inbox or on your to-do list with deadlines;
  • Identify the items that you cannot get wrong from the outset without having to spend an awful lot of time to fix it in the future (these are usually less than you would think).

Once you have these key elements you’re ready to take action. Depending on the volume of the project this can take from a couple of minutes to a couple of days. If you’re still stuck in the planning phase after weeks or months, then you didn’t answer the question honestly and you should quit daydreaming.

Don’t strive to get it perfect immediately. Many aspects can be tweaked later on and you will always need to adapt your plans to circumstances anyway. Done now is better than done perfectly someday.

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