Entrepreneurs are often natural problem solvers. While it’s good to thoroughly think through a problem or task, overthinking or obsessing over them can become a detrimental habit. Dwelling on concerns will only waste valuable time and energy that would be better invested elsewhere.
If you find yourself trapped in a cycle of overthinking, it’s important to find strategies for mentally resetting yourself and getting back on track. To find out what works best, we asked Young Entrepreneur Council members the following:
What approach do you prefer for recentering yourself when you’re finding that you’re overthinking about a problem or task?
Here are some of their favorite ways to recenter themselves when they find they’re lost in thought or can’t quite come to a decision:
1. Take a Break and Come Back to It
If I am spending too much time on a task and it is causing me to overthink, I usually take a break from the task so I can come back to it with a fresh mind. That break can be working on a different task or taking time to talk with my team. Either way, I have found that continuing to think on the task doesn’t help me come up with the best solution.
2. Ask the People Who Will Be Impacted by the Decision
Sometimes asking the team and customers for advice is the best approach. For example, if we’re debating on a feature to prioritize next, we’ll survey our customers to find out what new features they would be most interested in. This has been helpful in eliminating guesswork and giving the customer what they truly want.
3. Find Out How Others Have Solved Similar Problems
When I’m stuck on a problem, I’ll often read how others solved similar problems. If I can’t find any helpful articles, books or posts on the subject, I’ll reach out to the community via a forum and ask them for help. Not only will this help me solve the problem, but it will also help others in the future that come across similar obstacles.
4. Minimize Distractions
When overthinking about a problem or task, it’s important to minimize distractions. If you have too many distractions and other information coming at you, it’ll make your mind even more cluttered. Eliminate those distractions: Close the browser tabs you don’t need or turn off your computer all together if you can, put your phone on silent, find a quiet space and then focus on the task at hand.
5. Envision What Can Go Right
When we overthink, we’re usually thinking about what can go wrong and the worst possible outcomes. So, to stop yourself from overthinking and recenter, and then envision what can go right. As soon as you start to overthink about a problem, replace those thoughts with positive ones. Instead of saying, “This presentation is going to be horrible,” replace it with, “This presentation is going to be awesome.”
6. Go for a Walk
If I am overthinking something, I go for a walk. When you get stressed and your brain feels like it is tied in knots, you need to reset. For me, a 10-minute walk with some fresh air completely refocuses what I am doing.
7. Look at it From an Outside Perspective
Remove yourself from the middle of the situation and place yourself on the outside of it, so you can see the forest from the trees. Then, think about what other great leaders would do. This approach helps you clear any biases you may have, making it easier for you to make decisions that are best for the business.
8. Create a Mind Map
This is a technique that ensures any thought you put into a certain problem or task isn’t wasted, which helps to stop you from overthinking. To draw a mind map, you start by placing the core idea in the middle. Then, draw connections to any related thoughts or ideas to that core. Keep drawing new connections on your map until it forms a giant web of interconnected concepts.
9. Focus on Your ‘20%’ Projects
Leaders are constantly faced with the challenge of limited resources. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. I put this to the test every day as I make decisions regarding time allocation for both myself and my team. If 80% of the results will come from 20% of my work, the key is determining what the most important projects are and focus on only those.
10. Give Yourself a Hard Deadline to Make a Decision
When stuck overthinking through a problem and solution, it can be easy to remain stagnant and continue to try and analyze your way out. By creating a hard deadline, you limit yourself to how much additional research and analysis can be done, forcing you to make the best decision with the information on hand. Rarely does the additional information acquired offset the benefit of moving quickly.
11. Always Go Back to the Question
It’s easy to get lost in ideas, especially if you enjoy mental exercise. But usually, it only leads to more questions and sidetracks you from the original problem. So, parse the issue instead of overthinking the solutions. Breaking it down sets the inclusion-exclusion criteria for what the fix should look like. You’ll be surprised how simple the answers can be just by analyzing the issue at hand.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.