On Analysis Paralysis

Posted on — | 2 min read

I have often gotten stuck in analysis paralysis mode where I constantly look for the right way to solve a problem and end up spending way too much time on it than actually solving the problem. A lot of times what happens is the activity of searching for the right way to do something itself takes so much time and energy that I’d develop an aversion to the actual activity. Or I’d not feel the same level of enthusiasm with which I started.

A recent example for this was when I was thinking about the right way to journal. I’ve been journaling on and off the past few years and I’ve also changed my note-taking apps/services a few times. These note-taking apps have also influenced the way I journal.

I currently use org-mode to manage my tasks, events, journal, notes, thoughts, etc. Given that I wanted to journal in org-more, I started searching for the best ways to go about it - to “streamline the process”, so to speak. Like, what would the headings be? Should I follow a template? Can I use a text expander for the template? Should I add tags for each heading in that template? I was even looking up the /r/journaling subreddit to get some ideas.

But after spending some time on this, it just hit me - I should worry more about content than workflows. So, I just went ahead and freestyled it by putting in vague yet meaningful enough headings for each journal entry that either captures the task/event/feeling. And then I added tags to capture how I’m feeling. This took a lot of stress away from me and helped me focus on journaling instead of building a workflow.

This is just one example out of several where I spent too much time trying to find the right way to do something before actually doing it. What I realized from the above experience was to identify what is important to me. In the journaling example, what’s important is the content - writing down what I think, how I feel, rationalizing my thoughts when I’m anxious, etc. Everything else is secondary. As long as I make it extremely easy to accomplish this, I shouldn’t care about workflows. Because, workflows develop organically based on usage.