Analysis Paralysis: How To Tackle Decisions For A More Productive Life

Analysis Paralysis - How To Be More Productive | Monica Beatrice Welburn | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Have you ever had to make a decision about something – anything! – and been stuck slap bang in the middle of it? You literally can’t make your mind up, or you keep procrastinating? This, my friend, is Analysis Paralysis. And it’s something I 100% suffer with!

Analysis Paralysis is when you feel the weight of a decision looming over you and you can’t make your mind up. 

So you don’t. 

You literally stay exactly where you are. 

Deer in the headlights style. 

Analysis Paralysis isn’t all bad – it means that you’re invested in your decision making. But on the flip side, it can be a big time and energy suck. It can also mean that some ideas, events and occasions simply pass you by. 

If, like me, you suffer with Analysis Paralysis, I hope this post will help you!

Here are some of the techniques and tips I’ve put into play to help shake the AP. 

Analysis Paralysis - How To Be More Productive | Monica Beatrice Welburn | The Elgin Avenue Blog

6 Ways To Approach And Tackle Analysis Paralysis 

1 – Get To Know Your Tendency

The Four Tendencies is a personality framework devised by Gretchen Rubin; it helps people to identify how they respond to both inner and outer expectations.

Knowing if you’re an Obliger, Upholder, Questioner or Rebel can help you to command your strengths, and curb your stumbling blocks, when it comes to decision-making. 

Learning my tendency – Questioner – has been a game-changer for me!

As a Questioner I know that one of my strengths is that I research a decision thoroughly, and wont accept a situation ‘as it is’ for no real reason. I want to understand the whys of everything, and therefore when I do make a decision I’m very confident about it. 

On the flip side, it can take me a long time to make a decision, and when you’re up against the clock on something, or you want to move forwards with an idea, it can cause delay. 

As I know I’m a Questioner, I make a point of confronting the ‘research’ part of my decision-making as soon as possible, as that’s the area which can really drag on. And if I’m really caught up, I’ll put a deadline in place for me to have a decision by. More on that in point 5!

Find out what tendency you are by taking the Four Tendencies Quiz, and learn how to make the most of your personality type when it comes to decisions.

It may sound lengthy (spoiler: it’s not!) but it’ll help you in the long-run no end. 

2 – Trust Your Intuition

How often do you double-guess your intuition? I’m betting it’s a lot. 

Just recently I was in a situation which I immediately didn’t like, but I found myself second-guessing my instincts. And on reflection, my gut reaction was 100% correct.

Learning to lean into your intuition can help your decision-making greatly. Trust your gut. 

Although your gut reaction may feel ‘quick’, it is in fact the accumulation of information gathered over your whole life time.

Going with your gut doesn’t mean that you have to immediately give an answer to something, but do take into account what your gut instinct said in the first place. 

More often than not, as I’ve experienced,  it’s pointing you in the right direction.

Analysis Paralysis - How To Be More Productive | Monica Beatrice Welburn | The Elgin Avenue Blog

3 – Practice Why x 5

If I’m really stuck on something, I’ll practice ‘Why x 5’. This technique is one which Katie O. Selvidge shared in episode 40 of the Goal Digger podcast, and I was lucky enough to hear Katie talk about it in person during my recent trip to the States. 

Why x 5 is an AMAZING practice, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re really “umm’ing and ahh’ing” over a decision. 

Simply put, Why x 5 challenges you to keep asking “why” until you get to the route cause of your indecision. 

Here’s an example Why x 5: 

“I feel uncomfortable about attending tomorrow’s dinner”

“Why?”

“I’m worried I wont know anyone” 

“Why are you worried about not knowing anyone?”

“I find it awkward talking to strangers, and I think people will be clique’y”

“Why do you find it awkward, and what makes you think people will be clique’y?”

“I never know how to open conversations, and someone snubbed me in the past at an event” 

“How do you think you can get around that? And get over that painful memory?” NB: sometimes a ‘why’ can be another questioning term. 

“I can turn up early to the event so I can greet the host who I do know, and ask her to introduce me to people. Although I was snubbed in the past, it doesn’t mean other people will do the same. I should remain open to other people.”

Et voilà! You’ve come to the route of your indecision – in four why’s no less!

I’ve practiced Why x 5 SO many times myself, and it’s never failed to help me get to the root cause of my Analysis Paralysis. I’ve also done it with friends, and the impact can be incredible. 

Give it a go – I’d love to hear how you get on! 

4 – Get A Second Opinion

Sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in a decision, which you can’t see the wood through the trees on. 

When this happens to me, I call in a second opinion.

Often, that clarification and ‘permission’ (of sorts) from another person gives me the nudge I need to call it on a decision.

Foster relationships with people you trust, and know your go-to people for certain subjects.

I have friends I go to for business conundrums, relationship decisions and even my makeup choices.

Know your people!

5 – Set Yourself A Deadline 

Some decisions don’t naturally have a timeline, and those are the ones which can draggg. 

Rather than allowing them to remain unresolved, set yourself a deadline of when you need to make a decision by and be strict. 

Even small decisions can weigh down on you if you can’t get off the fence about them. 

Take the Analysis Paralysis into your own hands and get a deadline in place. 

If you need further accountability, make yourself answerable to someone else. 

You can ask a friend to check in with you on a certain day, or pair your decision with something you want to do – like going to the cinema. And if you don’t make the decision you can’t do it!

I know that would incentivise me – ha!

6 – Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway 

It wasn’t until I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic that I really understood the power of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. 

In Big Magic, Gilbert likens fear to a passenger in your car who can (to paraphrase) ‘come along for the road trip, but never drive’. 

I love that image. For me, that confirms, in no uncertain terms, that fear can (and will likely always) be there, it just can’t be your driving force. 

Next time you’re nervous or fearful of a decision, know that you can still do something, and invite fear along for the ride!

All of the big decisions and pivot points in my life have scared me (sometimes a LOT!) but without exception the scariest ones have been the choices which have made the biggest impact on my life.  

Overall 

Having decisions hanging over your head can really weigh down on you. 

SO much energy is spent on not making a decision –  i.e. Analysis Paralysis – that it’s a game changer if you can channel your efforts into action. 

Figure out how to get going on your decisions, and I’m certain that your productivity will sky rocket. 

What’s Your Take? 

Do you suffer with Analysis Paralysis? If so, how do you approach it? Which of the techniques above resonate with you? And will you be giving them a go?

I’m excited to hear how you get on! 

Love, Monica x

Photography by Charlotte Bryer-Ash 

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