Avery Blank, Senior Contributor
March 23, 2021
You want to think critically about your work, but watch out for overthinking things. If you find you are thinking about the same thing repeatedly, it is time for a new approach.
It is understandable to worry that your idea is not good enough and believe that you can make it better by spending more time thinking about it. But when you obsess over it, you are wasting time and energy. Here are five ways to help stop yourself from overthinking:
1. Perfection can negatively impact your productivity.
A study of professors showed that those who self-reported being perfectionists published fewer papers and were less cited in journals than their colleagues. Perfection impacts your productivity.
Ask yourself, “Is it more important that I be perfect or that I be productive?” Perfection, even if you think you may have obtained it, is unattainable.
Perfection is an unrealistic goal, a goal that can undermine your productivity and ability to get things done effectively and efficiently. That is, you don’t have to be a perfectionist to be productive. You don’t have to be a perfectionist to be effective. You don’t have to be a perfectionist to be successful.
2. You are smart.
Trust yourself. You are in your role because you have the intelligence to do the job.
You don’t have to overthink. Believe in yourself. Believe in your idea. Have confidence.
3. You will make mistakes.
You are human. You will make mistakes, even if you think intensely about your work. Don’t waste your time and energy overthinking.
Still, knowing that there is always the potential for mistakes does not excuse you from putting in a solid effort and giving your best and all to your work. You may be human, but you are also smart. Put your intelligence to work.
4. Few ideas become better by thinking more.
People tend to think that if they brainstorm more, they will come upon a better idea than the initial idea. Research suggests that this is untrue and that people underestimate the originality of their ideas.
Successful people brainstorm, but they don’t overdo it. You may have felt drained after a long brainstorming session. It could be telling you that you drained your energy on an idea that did not get better over time. Stop overthinking.
5. Time is money.
In business, time is money. The more time you spend on one thing, the less time you spend on something else. Make sure you are spending your time the right way.
Some work products need to be excellent. Some work just needs to be good enough. Successful people are smart enough to know the difference and to discern the level of effort and care needed for each task or project.
Overthinking is overdoing it, which means that it is unnecessary. Fight the urge to be perfect. Remember you are smart and, even despite that, you will make mistakes because you are human. Ideas don’t tend to get better with time, and time is money.
What helps you to avoid overthinking? Share with me your stories and thoughts via Twitter or LinkedIn .
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