How to stop overthinking at work and make faster decisions

Don't fall into the 'analysis paralysis' pit.

Harper's Bazaar India

We’ve all fallen victim to the ‘analysis paralysis’ phenomenon at some point. And while it’s a human desire to always be right, it’s also human to make errors. We overthink every decision to ensure we aren’t making any wrong choices but that leads us straight into a hamster wheel of thought. You can run on it all day long, but all that excessive ruminating will never amount to anything, but only end up slowing you down and overwhelming you. 

So, how do you pull yourself out of that bottomless pit of second-guessing and questioning yourself? Here are a few things that might help you be more proactive and not get lost in your downward thought spiral. 

Designate ‘no thinking’ times 

If you ever feel like your brain works like a machine that hasn’t been oiled in a while, it might be a good idea to rest for a bit. You can do this by consciously setting ‘no thinking’ times. For example, you can decide not to think about anything work-related after 8:00 pm, unless it’s an emergency. Another way to do this is to give yourself half an hour every day to think and overthink everything happening at work. Once that time is over, consciously stop your train of thought and dive into doing something productive. If you still feel like those thoughts are sneaking in, remind yourself you have time to think about it later. This method allows you to think your thoughts while not letting them impact your work.  

Write down your thoughts
If you ever feel like you are spiraling at work, for example, if your plate is overflowing and you’re overwhelmed and your thoughts about the many tasks are racing all at once, it helps if you write them down. This isn’t an out-of-the-box solution, but sometimes it helps to stick to the basics. When you let thoughts swirl around your head, you get consumed and end up making a mountain out of a molehill. In the bargain, you’ll get nothing done. However, writing down your thoughts helps you organise and prioritise better and you can work things out systematically. 

Own your opinions 

One of the reasons you may be overthinking at work is that you don’t trust yourself to make the right choices. If you think something works, don’t second-guess yourself. Respect your opinion instead of going back and forth about it. It will lead you to over-analyse, create more doubts, and eventually delay everything. The key to making faster decisions is owning the decision you make. 

Perfectionism is the enemy 

Despite what we’ve been told, being a perfectionist is not always a good thing. Perfectionists view things in black or white. And while life is a game of chess, viewing it like a chessboard doesn’t help. You need to allow yourself some grey space to move forward, otherwise, you will get stuck in a vicious loop of thoughts. Perfectionists also often set unrealistic goals for themselves and come crashing down when those goals aren’t met, which ultimately slows down their progress.  

View wrong decisions as opportunities for growth 

Making wrong decisions is not the end of the world. Thankfully, we don’t live in Chicken Little’s world where there is a chance one wrong move will make the sky fall. If you trust your intuition and allow yourself to make the wrong decision without putting the world’s weight on your shoulders, you’ll see that a stumble isn’t a catastrophe. It’s, in fact, an opportunity for growth. So, allow yourself to be wrong and every time you make a mistake (you will, because you’re only human) know that your knowledge on a subject will have only increased. If you keep telling yourself this, you’ll have some relief from constantly overthinking every small step you take.