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How to stop overthinking your decisions

Put a Deadline on Your Thoughts

To avoid over-ruminating about a decision, give yourself a time frame to think about it. 

If it’s a small issue such as what paint color to paint your office, perhaps a deadline of 10 minutes is sufficient; whereas a larger decision such as whether to accept a new job offer in another city may warrant a couple of days of thought.

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How to stop overthinking your decisions

How to stop overthinking your decisions

https://www.fastcompany.com/90300155/how-to-stop-overthinking-your-decisions

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Put a Deadline on Your Thoughts

To avoid over-ruminating about a decision, give yourself a time frame to think about it. 

If it’s a small issue such as what paint color to paint your office, perhaps a deadline of 10 minutes is sufficient; whereas a larger decision such as whether to accept a new job offer in another city may warrant a couple of days of thought.

Schedule Your Thinking Time

To avoid thinking about problems all day long, schedule a specific time where you give yourself the freedom to think about the issue you need to make a decision about. 

If thoughts about the issue creep into your brain before your scheduled thinking time, tell yourself “No, I’m going to think about that after dinner, not during this meeting”.

Problem Solving vs. Worrying

Dwelling on a problem, thinking “this is horrible, I can’t handle this” or rehashing things that happened in the past are an unproductive use of your time.

Thinking about what steps you can take to improve the situation or actively thinking of a solution to the problem are helpful toward moving forward. 

Take a Break

Letting the inactive parts of your brain work through the problem can let the answer come to you when you’re not expecting it. 

When you find yourself overthinking about a problem, try moving on to another subject or changing your physical space by going for a walk, or moving your laptop to a conference room to work on something else.

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Put things into a wider perspective

When you are thinking and thinking about something ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

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Set short time-limits for decisions

  • For small decisions like if you should go and do the dishes, respond to an email or work out, give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.
  • For somewhat larger decisions that would  take you days or weeks to think through in general, use a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.

Stop setting your day up for stress
  • Get a good start, that will set the tone for your day. (read or work-out and then start with the most important task of the day).
  • Single-task and take regular breaks. This will help you to keep a sharp focus during your day and to get what’s most important done while also allowing you to rest.
  • Minimize your daily input, especially from social media consumption. It will clutter your mind as the day progresses.

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Overthinkers

Chronic overthinkers rehash conversations they had yesterday, second-guess every decision they make and imagine disastrous outcomes all day every day.

Thinking too much prevents the...

Destructive thought patterns

Overthinking often involves two destructive thought patterns--ruminating and incessant worrying.

  • Ruminating involves dwelling on the past. "I should have stayed at my last job. I would be happier than I am now.""My parents didn't teach me how to be confident. My insecurities have always held me back."
  • Persistent worrying involves negative predictions about the future. "I'm going to embarrass myself tomorrow when I give that presentation. I know I'm going to forget everything I'm supposed to say."
Notice when you're stuck in your head

Overthinking can become such a habit that you don't even recognize when you're doing it. Practice paying attention.

When you're overthinking past or future events, acknowledge that your thoughts aren't productive. Thinking is only helpful when it leads to positive action.

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You are the sum of your decisions

A few major decisions determine a good portion of how our lives, careers, and relationships turn out. The outcomes of these decision points will reverberate for years.

Even smal...

Why We Make Poor Decisions
  • We’re not as rational as we think. 
  • We’re not prepared. We don’t understand the invariant ideas — the mental models — of how the world really works. 
  • We don’t gather the information we need. We make decisions based on our “guts” in complex domains that require serious work to gather all the needed data. 
The World Is Multidisciplinary

We live in a society that demands specialization. Being the best means being an expert in something.  A byproduct of this niche focus is that it narrows the ways we think we can apply our knowledge without being called a fraud.

We should apply all the knowledge at our disposal to the problems and challenges we face every day.

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Overthinking vs. problem-solving

If you’re proactively trying to gain a new perspective, you might find thinking about an issue is helpful. If you’re repetitively thinking about how you wish things were different or imagining a...

Evaluate Your Core Beliefs

Over time we all develop core beliefs based on our experiences about ourselves and the world. Whether you’re aware of them or not, they influence your thoughts, behaviors and emotions.

Use Your Mental Energy Wisely

Ruminating about things you can’t control drains mental energy quickly, leaving you less energy for what you can control. The more you practice expending your mental energy wisely, the more it will become a habit.

Save your mental energy for productive tasks, such as solving problems or setting goals. 

Replace Negative Thoughts With Productive Ones

Exaggerated, negative thoughts, can spiral out of control and influence your behavior if you don’t catch them.

Replace overly negative thoughts with productive and realistic ones. Changing your thoughts requires constant monitoring, but the process can be instrumental in helping you become your best self.

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Workplace Anxiety

It happens when you feel restless and stuck, and you have a sense of vague fear which leads to unproductiveness. It is an existential feeling that is hard to articulate. A constant sens...

Anxiety Vs Negative Emotion

Negative emotions (lack of confidence, toxic energy, fear) can also cause anxiety. The difference between the two is the feeling of being unsafe that comes with anxiety.

When you are anxious, the ability to think clearly is lost, and so is the perspective. Breathing exercises and making space in your mind by slowing down is the first step towards remaining calm in this general state of anxiety.

Objectify The Problem

Start journaling, asking specific questions to bring the main issue in focus, to get organized and gain clarity. Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What feels wrong?
  2. How can the problem be defined?
  3. What are the fears with regards to making changes?
  4. What actions can be taken that would improve the situation?

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Paradox of Choice
Paradox of Choice
It means that while increased choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater anxiety, indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.
Overthinking lowers your performance

Our working memory is what allows us to focus on the information we need to get things done at the moment we’re doing them. It is also in limited supply. You can think of it like our brain’s computer memory. Once it’s used up, nothing more can fit in.

When you overanalyze a situation, the repetitive thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks, causing your productivity to plummet.

Overthinking kills your creativity

A recent Stanford study suggests that over-thinking not only impedes our ability to perform cognitive tasks but keeps us from reaching our creative potential as well.

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Personal Or Core Values

They are what you consider most important in your life, literally what you “value. ” They are broad concepts that can be applied across a wide range of circumstances, as opposed to narrow answers t...

The Benefits Of Having a Core Value
  • Having a core values list helps you make better decisions. The decisions you make come more quickly and efficiently than they would without it.
  • Being unconscious of your core values makes you likely to keep repeating the same mistakes.
Creating a List Of Personal Values

The core values that are most valuable to each of us come from our own personal experience, not from being taught.

As you put them into practice you’ll get better at internalizing these values and they’ll express themselves subconsciously with smaller decisions, as well.

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Establish what you can control

Recognize that in most situations, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. 

When you put your energy into the things you can control, you'll be much more effective.

Your influence

You can influence people and circumstances, but you can't force things to go your way:

  • To have the most influence, focus on changing your behavior. Be a good role model and set healthy boundaries for yourself.
  • When you have concerns about someone else's choices, share your opinion, but only share it once. Don't try to fix people who don't want to be fixed.
Identify your fears

Think about what you could do when failure happens.

Usually, the worst-case scenario isn't as tragic as you might envision. Acknowledging that you can handle the worst-case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive exercises.

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Milton Friedman

"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas a..."

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Think in Years, Not Days

Before jumping to a conclusion, think about the long-term consequences of your decision.

We may respect those able to fling themselves into a hard problem and make a quick choice with seemingly little thought, but making a meaningful decision needs to be done with care for the long-term effects.

Understand Decision Fatigue

It’s important to be aware of what state of mind you’re in before tackling a hard choice.

Decision fatigue happens when the mental energy required to weigh the tradeoffs of our decision becomes too much for us to handle. 

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