Too much research can kill you? Productivity-wise

by IShawn
25 replies
I have been going through one of the main reasons I haven't produced as much as I should and wondering how others deal with it.

The problem occurs when you have an idea for something and you dive in but soon get lost in all the information available, ideas, possibilities etc and you end up creating nothing.

I wrote an example of this on my own blog where something that started off as an idea for an article rapidly got out of control and one month later nothing is produced (Saying that loads actually gets done and just sits on the hard drive).

Is this just me - I know it is my biggest problem - or does this effect other too? If so, how do you beat it?
#kill #productivity #productivitywise #research
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Shook
    I find that starting with the end in mind first works pretty well.

    If I focus on what I want as an outcome, and work backward from that (even if I don't exactly know all the steps) I find that I can keep myself on track more easily by just asking myself if this new idea that showed up is going to help me get to my original goal.
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    • Profile picture of the author polrbearz
      Ishawn:

      It's NOT just you I've been telling this story in different places on WF---family commitments made me put getting it together for IM on the back burner until very recently. So---to make up for lost time, I went into an ENORMOUS research phase without much actual online experience to counterweight it. Now I'm trying to come out of it.

      My plan--to paraphrase Jason Fladlien--is to steadily increase the ratio of action to study I take regarding IM each day.
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  • Profile picture of the author oliviasmith
    Well don't let the doubts overcome you, just allot a time for research and then just implement your ideas. Don't be afraid of the results. That's my way of work.
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  • Profile picture of the author IShawn
    Thanks for the advice guys... It is all sensible and makes me think I should know better, I am not new to any of this and I should know better ... but in my own fashion I am still continuing on this path and trying to figure out how to produce content along the way.
    • I know having the end in mind is good - but often that is led by constant discovery and you often follow new goals in the process.
    • Also that the key is constant and maximum output (in many forms) - makes me think that you should be recording, noting and producing stuff along the way. If I never worry about quality that might work at providing a goldmine of audio, video and articles as I go.
    • But it has to be done without burdening yourself enough to distract you from the end in mind.

    I know - I overthink everything... but I was kind of practising what I was preaching then :rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author tonyB222
    yeah prioritise, with a certain amount of time for research , no , more, I love research, in a way its surfing and easy to get lost in it, check out the pomodoro system, its free to download
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  • I agree with the other posters. This is one of those topics I feel strongly about. Once, I spent too much time collecting information and gathering data instead of being productive and taking action. The bills piled up and I fell behind. I finally took some form of action, even still not having all the "right" information.


    I teach seminars on internet marketing in my area. One problem I see among inspiring internet marketers and veterans alike is paralysis by analysis. They make a good faith effort to learn, but get so overwhelmed, they feel they haven't learned anything. This leads to a vicious cycle of gathering more information, feeling overwhelmed, gathering more information, overwhelmed (ad nauseum).


    I also lecture that information gathering may be a subtle yet insidious combination of the fear of failure and the fear of success. It may be a subconscious way of self-sabotage.


    There's something about our human brains that processes information better in bits and pieces. For example, instead of just focusing on losing 100 lbs, focus on the first 5, then the next 5, then the next.



    It's been said many times over, but having an accountability partner to keep you on track can help.



    Hope this helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author GlobalTrader
      Paralysis of Analysis it is called. Not sure what motivational book it was from 30 years ago but it has always stuck with me.

      Make a list of what you wish to accomplish each day, personal and business, then keep that list handy so you can refer to it often (believe it gets even more important to do so when you get over 50). I also do a weekly list on Sunday, so there are two lists I work from by taking things from the weekly list and placing them on my daily list.

      I believe it was the commanding general of the first gulf war, General Swartzkopf, who I read many years ago made a list of things to do each day and if there were some that did not get done, as usually happens, you then roll them into the next day and stick to that list otherwise you will not get anything accomplished of any significance.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightowl John
      Originally Posted by TheGetStartedExpert View Post

      One problem I see among inspiring internet marketers and veterans alike is paralysis by analysis. They make a good faith effort to learn, but get so overwhelmed, they feel they haven't learned anything. This leads to a vicious cycle of gathering more information, feeling overwhelmed, gathering more information, overwhelmed (ad nauseum).

      I also lecture that information gathering may be a subtle yet insidious combination of the fear of failure and the fear of success. It may be a subconscious way of self-sabotage.

      There's something about our human brains that processes information better in bits and pieces. For example, instead of just focusing on losing 100 lbs, focus on the first 5, then the next 5, then the next.

      It's been said many times over, but having an accountability partner to keep you on track can help.

      Hope this helps.
      Yes, exactly. It may also be procrastination due to perfectionism. I'm totally guilty of that. I don't want to put anything out there unless it's perfect. And that is, as you say, fear of failure/success.

      Great advice in this thread.
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      • Profile picture of the author polrbearz
        I'm in the same boat as the last 2 posters. My inner mind can visualize a scenario where I have all the right pieces and people in place. I procrastinate, not wanting to "waste" my grand debut without these elements in place.

        I have a practical solution in mind: Cooperation with a single, available person who is skilled at putting an entire system together but is for some reason not interested in the CONTENT that is being promoted in that system. This person could actually mentor me a bit on the technical/process stuff until I am up to speed. Then we could evolve our roles together. I saw this in a resource about outsourcing---a "master VA" who would work closely with you and coordinate other VA's as they became needed. Very bold and creative idea---for the right person.

        This might look backwards to some of you--getting help before you actually put anything out there. But I like the idea of being able to quickly get actual markeplace feedback and also very quick course-correction from an experienced technical collaborator. And the report that described this idea said that it WAS specifically for the newer person who had lots of pent-up content ready to roll. Which is me.
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  • Profile picture of the author DPWeb
    Overthinking is a productivity killer. I experience the exact same problem. I end up reading for hours and thinking through a plan. Once I started really just doing more, I started to notice more success.

    Just put down the plan and go at it for a days straight. Just produce. Whatever comes out comes out. Get it in front of people, you never know what people are going to like until you give it to them. Your plan means nothing because you are going to change it once you realize what IS working.
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  • Profile picture of the author IShawn
    Thank you for the excellent replies but Oh! the irony of spending the last week of studying this very problem...

    My two previous tweets have been...

    "I've spent ages and ages, thinking deeply and examining completely all aspects of 'paralysis from analysis'..."

    Today I have developed a cure for perfectionism! But before I can tell you what it is, I must make sure it is ideal for everyone!
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightowl John
      Originally Posted by IShawn View Post

      Today I have developed a cure for perfectionism! But before I can tell you what it is, I must make sure it is ideal for everyone!
      That comment cracked me up! Glad I wasn't taking a drink or my screen would have been a mess! Thanks for the laugh! (The best humor is often based on a common truth.)
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    • Originally Posted by IShawn View Post


      "I've spent ages and ages, thinking deeply and examining completely all aspects of 'paralysis from analysis'..."

      Today I have developed a cure for perfectionism! But before I can tell you what it is, I must make sure it is ideal for everyone!
      I love it when we can poke fun at ourselves!
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      • Profile picture of the author IShawn
        Poking fun at yourself can often be a disguised defense mechanism - you see - you get the digs in there before anyone else can and steal their thunder

        BTW - Can you believe I am still at it ... somethings going to give!
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        • Profile picture of the author keep.livin
          Originally Posted by IShawn View Post

          Poking fun at yourself can often be a disguised defense mechanism - you see - you get the digs in there before anyone else can and steal their thunder

          BTW - Can you believe I am still at it ... somethings going to give!
          That is a top notch observation

          other side- better stress release than anger
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  • Profile picture of the author DanteIlluai
    It reminds me of a webinar I saw with Leon Jay. One of the keys to success he sighted was 'A Clear Path. Stray From It And You Will Get Lost.'

    Hearing that and thinking about it was a pretty pivotal moment for me. I used to drown myself in information and nothing moved. I have since learned to cut off all contact and focus. It is easy to just 'learn' to feel productive, when not doing anything.

    When I took on too much information it distorted my clear path and I would indeed get lost.

    Cut off all contact from unnecessary sources. Get off everyone's mailing list unless you really need to be on it (likely there is only 1 or 2 of these if that). Them marketing to you is going to play with your head and you'll just waste time hemming and hawing about if you should be buying this product.

    Pick a project and focus on it relentlessly. To use a suggestion from the four hour work week: Before taking in any piece of information ask yourself, 'Is this both immediate and important?' If the answer is not yes to both then do not take that information in.

    I suggest reading the book the four hour work week several times and making a free account on simple·ology - The Simple Science of Getting What You Want (index-video)

    I've battled with this and many other obstacles so I can feel where you are coming from for sure. If you have any other questions on it in greater detail you can PM me and I'll be glad to make suggestions. Don't feel offended if there is a delay in my response, though. I'm not on every day.
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    • Profile picture of the author naruq
      It is good to do some research before you start a project. You must take action and monitor your results. You can always make adjustments.
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  • Profile picture of the author ThomScott
    Love it! This is the bane of most "creative" types who love the "thinkertoys" of new ideas and resources.

    Fortunately, my dad always drilled into my head that nothing kills profits more than spending 2 hours on a 1 hour project. So, for me, I have to LIVE by timers. When I'm working on a job, I always budget how much time I'm going to spend on each function, research, writing, etc... Then I set a timer and do the very best I can do in that period of time.

    You'll find that additional research and project time may, in fact, increase the quality of the outcome. But, from my experience, the gain is never in direct proportion to the additional time spent. The key is to focus on the 20% that gets you the 80% yield.

    If you want to learn to quickly and easily estimate and track your project/research time, I suggest you check out free information online about the Pomodoro Method. For this ADD/ADHD entrepreneur, it's been a lifesaver!

    Hope this helps!

    all the best,
    Thom
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    • Profile picture of the author polrbearz
      Thanks Thom:

      You could be talking about me. It seems like I'm on 2 tracks: the "invisible" track where my head is always in the clouds trying to make sure have the best bead on the "big picture" AND as many supporting details as possible.
      And the immediate or "manifesting" track where I'm actually taking action. I find that there is a vast distance between the 2 tracks, especially when I'm new to an area (like IM).

      I'll have to check out the Pomodoro method. It sounds like something that might be for me as well.
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      • Profile picture of the author DawnMarie
        If it's something small, like that article you mentioned, then get started on it IMMEDIATELY. Odds are your inspiration is running full throttle, so get down as much as you can. Then let it ferment for a day or two and come back and finish it.

        If it's a big project, set a timetable with deadlines and post it where you CANNOT miss it - like on the edge of your computer monitor. Let someone else know about your timetable and have them keep you accountable.

        And above all else, be ever vigilant about "over thinking" the project. I do that myself, and it's not worth it. It's better to get whatever you're doing 80-90% perfect than 100%, because you will NEVER reach 100%, and thus you will never get it finished if that is your goal. Do not shoot for perfect, shoot for really good and let go of the need to get it just right.

        And good luck! :-)
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      • Profile picture of the author ThomScott
        You're very welcome! Believe me... I'm right there with you! But, since I have to function in the real world and provide well for my wife and six kids, I have to compensate as best as I can for my weaknesses and take advantage of the creative strengths that come from minds that are wired like ours.

        A couple great books helped me as well ... Odd One Out - by Koretsky (great for understanding the strengths and weaknesses that you likely have when you struggle with inconsistent focus issues) and ADD Friendly Ways To Organize Your Life - by Kolberg (great for simple workarounds that help compensate for a lack of natural organization).

        Hang in there and keep moving forward. Success breeds success, so as you start making some positive changes, that will help create great momentum!

        All the best,
        Thom
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  • Profile picture of the author keep.livin
    Originally Posted by IShawn View Post

    ...

    I wrote an example of this on my own blog where something that started off as an idea for an article rapidly got out of control and one month later nothing is produced (Saying that loads actually gets done and just sits on the hard drive).

    Is this just me - I know it is my biggest problem - or does this effect other too? If so, how do you beat it?
    information constipation, i know it well

    be sure to perform some income producing activity everyday.
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  • Profile picture of the author Caleb D Miller
    I think that people that are prone to learning are prone to going off with research into too many directions and losing focus. I love to learn and I used to go to the library and come out with 20+ books from many different subjects.

    But there are people who have the strength of goal setting and I think they are less prone to researching things that don't concern them.

    Learning is a strength but I think you can try to learn too much sometimes.
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  • Profile picture of the author aawarrior
    I agree. Too much research will kill you and make you give up before you start. Get a mentor at least you will be walking a directional path to your success.
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