Analysis Paralysis - The Potato Chip Method

If you have trouble focusing on a given hobby or skill you’re developing, despite being very interested in the matter, it is likely that the feedback loop of input (your efforts) to output (the payoff) is too long. If you examine the habits you have acquired, both good and bad, you will notice that they share a few traits:

I. Low initial cost, be it time, money, effort. II. An immediate result III. The entire process, from beginning to end, is brief relative to the payout.

We love high yields on our efforts and attention. Clicking that red notification badge on an app, or hitting the button on the TV, to get a few hits of dopamine, are both examples of this. If you make a todo list, you’re likely to prioritizae the things that feel the easiest over the unfun and low perceived ROI items. In this instance, I mean ROI of feelings of completion, indulgence, and things of that nature.

And so if you’re having trouble sticking with a hobby, goal, or project; try your best to ignore the bigger picture by breaking it into much smaller steps or pieces, and losing yourself in those first steps as if they’re the only steps. Make tiny goals within the bigger goal, and focus on one at a time. I call this the potato chip method.

No matter how much reading or research you do in a new area, you don’t learn as fast until you start doing. Don’t get stuck in the planning phase. The world is full of discouraged perfectionists that have all the answers, but nothing to show for it. Try to set those first few smalls steps, and ignore the rest for the time being.

Written on November 14, 2017