How to Think Productively If You’re An Overthinker

Making decisions, whether life-changing or arbitrary, is basically just committing to a choice and rolling with the consequences.

Some decisions require more thought than others, sure, but at the end of the day, a single choice can’t always be a compromise between the two options.

Here’s a handy graph to help you figure out how average people prioritize their decisions:

Image Credit: Rysa Antonio

But when you got some major quarter-life crisis vibes going on, making decisions feel like this:

Image Credit: Rysa Antonio

It’s almost as though every decision carries a weight that will completely alter the course of your life. Oh yeah, and everything is on fire. Metaphorically of course, because ignoring the impending flames slowly burning our academic motivation to the ashes while we look at funny Facebook memes is classic escapism.

This is not to say that it is in our nature to put things off out of laziness or run away from our responsibilities. It is more likely that we are so overwhelmed with all of our thoughts that we are paralyzed from making a decision.

So how do we get past our clutter of thoughts? Here are some tips on how to take charge over your overthinking:

1. Write it down

If you’re going to overthink, write it all down as a bulleted list. Not only will it make all your concerns organized enough to actually solve, but you will also clearly see which thoughts actually deserve your prolonged attention.

2. Focus on the step-by-step

The purpose of listing it down isn’t to intimidate you with the long list of things to do, but so that you can easily choose the important stuff you can work on today. After getting your priorities in order, the next step is crucial: focus. If you start to overthink while working as a force of habit, try to centralize your overthinking on how to do the current task better.

3. Just do it

Spend more time doing—it’ll help you learn quicker than repeatedly thinking about the possible outcomes in theory. Overthinking means you have probably read all about it, discussed it with people and are most likely well-equipped to handle it. Once your overthinking reaches a point where you are just silently discouraging yourself in fear of failure, cut it loose and go for it. Fortune favors the brave, probably because only the brave bother to try.

4. Choose your battles

Sometimes the things we think about aren’t just our workloads or chores for the day. Oftentimes, we have personal trouble with our relationships, our bad habits, our perceived shortcomings and so on. For these types of worries, it would seem no amount of list-making can instantly bring us closer to solving them. But remember, if nothing can be done about it then it simply isn’t worth your time.

Try not to fall into the typical overthinker trap. If you are paralyzed not out of anxiety but because the problem is out of your hands, don’t let it dwell and hold you back. Keep moving forward!

Featured Art by Rysa Antonio