Author Gordon Livingston has observed that only bad things happen quickly: “…Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time.” Take your time, but manage it well with our 12 Days of Time Management for Teens:
How many great works have died on the vine, never to be culminated or appreciated, due to a failure to launch? We’ve all been guilty of the crime of inaction, endlessly thinking and over-thinking a situation so that no decision is made or action taken. Failure stings, but this phenomenon, known as option paralysis or analysis paralysis, is far worse than that because at least failure teaches us something. Doing nothing teaches nothing (except maybe to actually make a decision next time!)
The motto of those who burn to get things done in the 21st century is, “Work iteratively.” In essence, this approach demands that you do something towards completion of a project, even if you only address a small part of the entire job. For example, you may be overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a 20-page paper. Some students may spin their wheels doing lots of preparatory busywork: compiling research, organizing work space, taking naps, etc. More effective workers take small but concrete steps towards completion, like writing outlines or crafting paragraphs.
Iteration is so effective that many major companies have adopted this philosophy, prioritizing “done” over “perfect” in order to deliver products and services to market. Ironically, every iteration of a product moves it closer to perfect as designers incorporate real user-feedback into future iterations.
So next time you struggle with paralysis by analysis, channel the spirit of Nike and just do it. Work on some part of what needs to be done and you will move towards better, faster results. If working iteratively is good enough for Facebook, it should be good enough for you.
The 12 Days of Time Management for Teens is inspired by and draws liberally from Etienne Garbugli’s excellent Slideshare presentation, 26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20. Obviously, we think this advice is valuable even for students younger than 20!