Avoid Analysis Paralysis


A client of mine introduced me to the term “analysis paralysis”. Right when she said it, I could feel the weight of those words. The hours of deliberation over a minor decision that can happen and weigh us down.

If you’re new to the idea of analysis paralysis here is the wiki definition: “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.”

Think quickly about the last time this feeling happened to you. What were you trying to decide or complete? Can you think of several times recently this has happened? Does it affect your productivity and your sanity?

The biggest trigger of analysis paralysis is the fear of making the wrong decision. Often making no decision or taking no action at all is a safer, less stressful choice than actually making a decision. However, that doesn’t mean the lack of decision won’t weigh on you, guilt you or affect your life in other ways, it just means you are too overwhelmed to make a decision and will suffer the consequences, whatever they may be.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to make the “wrong” decision. No one likes to be wrong. Often when that feeling of complete overwhelm comes we turn to research and other “investigative” techniques to stall the decision. The truth is, very few decisions in our lives need that level of intense analysis. Don’t get me wrong, if you are considering a big move to a new city, a new job, buying a home. Please, take the time to do the research, analysis and pre-work. If you are trying to decide where to go on your next vacation, the level of research and analysis doesn’t have to be at the same level as the aforementioned decisions.

So, how can we recognize what decision need a higher level of analysis and where we can use a combination of being well informed, concise research and our intuition.

Here are five questions to ask when deciding how much analysis is necessary for a decision:

  1. What’s the worst that can happen?
  2. In a year from now, will it matter?
  3. What is my gut telling me?
  4. Have I made this decision/done this task before?
  5. How will it make me feel when it’s done? Even if it’s not perfect?

Let go of the fear of being wrong; of not knowing EVERYTHING before beginning. Take a deep breath and take it on – whatever IT is, I promise it will feel good, it will empower you and it will strengthen your decision making skills!

Happy Organizing!