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Use the 10% rule to stop over-analyzing at work

Avoid over-analyzing at work with this nifty rule of thumb so that you can get back to business in a jiffy.

Person feeling self-doubt looking at their computer

Just do it. Nike’s words come so easily yet they are the hardest step to take. You have to start somewhere. There are an endless number of motivational and slightly overbearing phrases to mull over. There are so many in fact, that they may just prevent you from starting at all. That is the problem. Most of us find it difficult to dig ourselves out of the rabbit hole of over-analyzing. We spend so much time thinking about the thing, planning, getting advice, making spreadsheets, and pretending to research that we never actually do the thing. We never start.

Self-aware

The good thing is that recognizing this about yourself is the first step to taking action. Think about the last project you had and review your timeline.

How much time was spent planning the project versus working on the project?

Sometimes people get so lost in building the systems they need to complete something, that they forget about the point of it all. This can happen because you still feel productive by answering all the questions you have and going over every detail to ensure perfection. All of this planning eventually becomes an excuse not to begin.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Luckily there is a pretty handy metric you can use in order to break yourself from this habit.

Actually do the work

Neil Hughes touched on the “10% rule” in his article which offers advice on how to stop over-analyzing projects. According to him, a good rule of thumb is that “no more than 10% of your time should be spent making systems; 90% should be spent using those systems.”

This refers to all of the list-making, research, and color-coded excel sheets that apparently are necessary to the project’s success. This is just an example ratio. Perhaps, you need at least 25% of your time to plan.

The main focus should be working on the project. The best way to find what works is to review how you spent time on projects in the past.

Just a tool

How long did they take you to complete? Where can your time be better spent? By answering these questions, you can begin to steer yourself onto the path of action.

Planning can be a key tool in the success of a project, but remember that it is just a tool.

Written By

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

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