How To Stop Overthinking And Make Better, Faster Decisions
Thinking before you act is helpful – up to a certain point. Overthinking can kill your productivity and impair decision-making in numerous ways.
“Constantly ruminating on a problem can be detrimental to your productivity and creativity,” says Talia Bombola, Certified Psychodynamic LMFT. “Research suggests that overthinking can reduce the amount of available working memory and make it harder to make high-quality, long-term decisions. Though it may sometimes be beneficial to weigh up all the options, excessive analysis often leads to more anxiety, regret, and dissatisfaction with the choices made.”
How overthinking kills productivity
You may be wondering what makes overthinking so bad for your productivity. According to Bombola, being overly focused on potential outcomes and problems slows down your decision-making and increases procrastination – or, even worse, leads to analysis paralysis and inaction. Overthinking also increases stress, which then negatively impacts your focus and motivation to stay on track and get things done. Not to mention the opportunities that you miss when you spend too much time analyzing a situation. Sometimes, you only have a certain window of time to take advantage of an opportunity that will lead to success.
Plus, it doesn’t help that we already live in a state of constant information overload. A LexisNexis survey revealed that workers spend more than half of their workday receiving and managing information instead of actually using it to do their jobs. To be productive in the modern workplace, you have to sift through information and determine which insights are useful and which ones are just noise.
The benefits of making faster decisions
If you’re an overthinker, don’t panic. There are solutions that can turn you into a much more productive person and efficient problem-solver in the long run. To counteract the pitfalls of overthinking, you’ll want to work on improving your decision-making skills.
“Making faster decisions at work can provide several benefits. It can help you stay ahead of the competition and make sure you are able to capitalize on new opportunities quickly. It can also help you reduce stress and uncertainty by having a decision-making process that is well-thought-out and efficient,” says Bombola. This prevents costly delays and allows you to juggle multiple priorities. Being quick to make decisions can even improve your professional relationships.
“It can help you build trust with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders by demonstrating that you are able to make decisions in a timely and efficient manner,” adds Bombola.
How to stop overthinking and become more decisive
Here’s your game plan to nip overthinking in the bud and make better, faster decisions.
First, understand that your mindset plays a big role in your overthinking tendencies. “Fear is a normal part of decision-making, but it can prevent us from making the best decisions,” says Bombola, who recommends acknowledging and identifying any fears you may have about making the wrong decision in order to be able to move past them.
Embracing the idea that it’s okay to fail forward may help you manage those fears, too. “Taking a chance on the wrong decision opens up possibilities to gain knowledge, harness new ideas, and spark growth simply not achievable through inaction. With every wrong move, you acquire a new understanding of how to solve future challenges and opportunities,” according to Natalie Goulding, the Senior HR Consultant at Patterson Consulting Group.
Having a growth-oriented approach will boost your confidence in your decisions because you’ll experience the positive impact of your decisions first-hand and gain trust in the fact that success doesn’t require overthinking. When some decisions do go wrong, you’ll see that it’s not the end of the world and it will free you even further.
Additionally, there’s something to be said about slowing down to decide faster. Bombola recommends taking a few deep breaths and clearing your mind before making a decision. Then, focus on the outcome you want to achieve and ask yourself how potential decisions will help you get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback while evaluating your options. “Talking to someone who can provide an outside perspective can help you think through a decision more clearly,” says Bombola.
Still feeling stuck? A good-old list of pros and cons can help. Just keep in mind that while all those habits can help you become more decisive, you’ll still want to move through your decision-making process fast enough. Bombola recommends giving yourself a time limit to make a decision to avoid spending hours and hours going back and forth and doubting yourself.
If you tend to overthink, the bottom line is that you need to become more comfortable with the fact that you can’t control everything while building trust in your judgment and decisions. The steps above will help you get there.