Defeating Analysis Paralysis, One Step at a Time

I recently learned it has a name: analysis paralysis.

It’s that state of over-thinking or over-analyzing something so much that you become so overwhelmed you’re unable to do anything. Or, you end up spending two hours looking at animal gifs and reading about anal play on Reddit.

overthinking-analysis-paralysis.jpg

I was grateful to realize analysis paralysis was a thing that many people experience (thus it warranting a name). Because, when you’re in it, you convince yourself that this is all your fault, you’re a piece of shit, why can’t you get anything done, and oh my god, just do it, but there’s so much work to do, where do I even start, and can’t I save it until tomorrow morning? Yeah, let’s figure it out tomorrow morning.

The next day, maybe I’ll do whatever I needed to get done the day before in a panic. And maybe I don’t, which is when things get super fun—the cycle of self-degradation, and basically being a huge bitch to myself, continues. That, and nothing gets done.

Analysis paralysis is different than your usual, everyday procrastination, though they are intertwined. Procrastinating can be a good thing for creative types. It’s been linked to original thinking. And, for me, there’s no better way to spark a manic fire under my ass than the extreme fear of a looming deadline.

But recently, I haven’t even been able to meet my deadlines. (Yeah, not good…)

The causes of one’s analysis paralysis can probably be picked apart and healed with talk therapy, sure. Anxiety, low self-esteem, and the general bad habit of being a huge bitch to oneself are probably a few of the many factors tied up in it. For now, though, let’s focus on simply getting things done.

As is duh, the more you’re able to cross off the list, the less overwhelmed you’ll feel. You’ll hopefully break the cycle of self-hatred faster, accomplish some tasks, and eventually have time to find a decent talk therapist.

So, how do we do that?

Lately, I’ve been trying this technique that I’ve heard from a few sources, in different variations: You take the task, and break it down into simple, digestible steps, then start tackling each one of those sub-tasks. For example:

OLD TO-DO LIST

  • Edit thursty article
  • Write freelance fashion article
  • Organize product photo shoot

 

STEP-BY-STEP (NEW) TO-DO LIST

  • Edit thursty article
    • Proofread copy in backend
    • Rename photos from contributor
    • Upload photos from contributor
    • Pick featured image
    • Edit featured image
    • Upload featured image
    • Re-read article for final proofing and preview
    • Schedule article to go live
  • Write freelance fashion article
    • Research products for article
    • Collect images of products and hyperlinks
    • Outline article
    • Free write article 30 minutes
    • Edit article
    • Format article in back end
    • Re-read/proof article
    • Submit for review
  • Organize product photo shoot
    • Decide products to feature
    • Pull inspiration images
    • Research location
    • Reach out to potential models
    • Confirm location
    • Confirm model
    • Confirm time
    • Send model release contract
    • Pick 2 shots we need to get to wrap that day
    • Shoot
    • Upload photos

(I really hope you skimmed that, as it’s a literal, mundane break-down of tasks I often have as a consultant and freelancer. But you get the idea.)

Long to-do lists can be daunting, no doubt. And breaking down a task into the simplest steps your jerk-face intern who refuses to learn HTML can grasp might make you feel a bit less ~*~important,~*~ ~*~talented,~*~ and ~*~glamorous~*~. However, when your brain is going totally bananas and you’re so overwhelmed you’re unsure of where to start, listing the steps of each task gives you an easy-to-read road map of exactly where to begin, and where to go next when you inevitably get distracted or sidetracked. And of course, once you hit your flow, there’s no reason you have to stick to the list.

It’s been working for me. I hope it works for you, too.

Do you use the step-by-step technique or something similar?

Details

“Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn’t matter.”

– Natalie Goldberg, “The Power of Detail,” Writing Down the Bones

Coming August 2015: thursty magazine

thursty-coming-soon-trio

So, I suppose it was inevitable: I’m starting a magazine.

Over the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of so much support not only as a writer, but as a backer of publications that have since shuttered, or simply disappeared.

Despite layoffs, paychecks that never came, and a whole lot of disappointment in the publishing-realm, this encouragement has motivated me to bypass my Plan B (find a rich producer husband in Beverly Hills), and to take matters into my own hands…

Enter: thursty magazine

thursty is an online magazine about love, sex, friends, and work. Being thursty means hustling hard to get what you want while staying authentic. thursty delivers straight-up advice, cutting-edge essays, and a place for its passionate readers to connect. It’s a destination for the curious who are figuring out their shit. That’s where we come in. After all, everybody’s thursty for something.

This ground-floor project has been in the works since the spring: That means no crowdfunding, no preparing pitches for investors, and a whole lots of passion, hard work, and dedication from every single person who’s been involved.

And also, a wee bit of begging my loved ones for grocery money. (So maybe we kind of have investors…)

I’m so excited for you to see the site, read some amazing stories, and ogle over the gorgeous artwork. It may have started off as my baby, but this publication has been formed by a group of insanely talented, hilarious, interesting, true-blue writers and artists that has given me the pleasure of remembering why I chose to do what I do.

thursty will launch August 2015. To be one of the first to know when that happens,  follow thursty on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

There’s No Winter in L.A.

neon-palm-trees

“Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”

– Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Valentine’s Day Booty: Customized TGT Wallets

laser-engraved-tgt-wallersSure, my relationship with this minimalist, slim wallet started when I did a favor for a friend. But I’ve fallen madly in love with my TGT Wallet since I started using it after I got my wallet jacked at the Echo.

Now, I’d recommend this pared-down cash-and-card holder to anyone.

TGT Wallets slip easily into the pocket of your jeans, leather coat, or even the side-zipper of your unnecessarily massive purse.

I can no longer fathom fumbling around for my fat-ass wallet deep inside the black hole of my bag.

The limited-edition, laser-engraved wallets that TGT’s offering exclusively for Valentine’s Day are equally as sleek—and also heart-wrenchingly adorable.

The lovey-dovey engravings remind me of all the dudes I dated who were too big of pussies to carve our initials into a tree like REAL MEN, Huckleberry Finn-style.

But you can also get your own initials engraved into your bad-ass wallet—’cause FUCK LOVE! AND TO HELL WITH VALENTINE’S DAY!

[Everyone breathe.]

So that’s my plan—along with pre-ordering tickets to Fifty Shades of Grey, as I no longer have any fucks to spare at the moment.

HOWEVER: If you have a honey, order a Limited-Edition TGT Wallet ASAP ($49, tightstore.com). I’m sure your sexy-hot partner will dig it.

[Image via tightstore.com]