It can be far worse than laziness

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Overanalysis has been Tim Ferriss’s life story:

It can be far worse than laziness, as overanalysis leads to the same lack of action but ALSO self-loathing.

What helped me quite a bit was studying military history, military strategy, and decisive battles (check out Blink and Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership).

The stories informed how I overcame paralysis by analysis. Step one is set deadlines for decisions. In warfare, you rarely have complete information, and if you wait to push certainty from 75% to 85%, say, that lag time could cause you to lose advantage and opportunity. It’s the same in many parts of life.

So I set deadlines. By X point in time, I must make a go or no-go decision, no matter how much or how little information I have. Furthermore, I try and figure out small, short-term, low-risk experiments (e.g., split testing, hiring a contractor to design mockups) I can run as “go” decisions, so that I don’t perceive action as high-risk.

So, in short: set deadlines for decisions (put them in your calendar or they aren’t real) and break large intimidating actions/projects into tiny mini-experiments that allow you to overcome fear of failure. Once you have a little momentum, the paralysis usually disappears on its own.

Hope that helps!


But what does he really mean by overanalysis?


  1. Grasspunk says:

    I’ll get moving right away. But first I’ll read those two books he mentions. Then I’ll create a schedule of deadlines and invent a set small experiments I can run to course correct.

    I think I can see where he gets the idea that he overanalyses,

  2. Ross says:

    Acting without undue delay with incomplete information is the essence of getting inside your opponent’s OODA Loop — even if that opponent is yourself.

    There are probably some very sexy semantic/Pareto analyses on the optionality value of the left-out information, but moving forward with incomplete 4-1-1 is virtually always better.

    I would love to see Taleb’s take on this last point.

  3. Redan says:

    Infantry axiom: No plan ever survived initial contact with the enemy.

  4. Kirk says:


    Two things to bear in mind, as you write your OPORDs*:

    1. The OPORD is always the first casualty.

    2. The OPORD is mostly a list of things that ain’t gonna happen, and those things that do happen almost certainly won’t happen when the OPORD says they will.

    *OPerations ORDer, a military document/planning tool consisting of five paragraphs meant to cover everything possible that might pertain to a military operation. The higher the echelon, the simpler such an order should be, but unfortunately, we have this tendency to write platoon OPORDs such that they fit on an MRE case cover, and Corps OPORDs such that they look like the Encyclopedia Britannica. Guess which OPORD contains more things that actually happen per the plan…?

  5. Redan says:

    Kirk, I’m on the PDRL now.

    Redan, SFC, USA Retired

Leave a Reply