When you take on a new project, set a new goal or decide to learn a new skill, chances are you won’t have all the information you need. The good news is with the internet, you have access to a wealth of information. Armed with the right skills and a smartphone, you can do all the research you need while lying in bed. The bad news is the internet is a vast space. The simplest google search returns millions of results. Too much choice can be a bad thing.
One of the forms procrastination takes is research. If you have spent the last two weeks searching for more information to help you decide whether to sign up for a one-hour online course next month, then you have fallen into this trap. It’s not entirely your fault. When faced with too much information and too many choices, the human brain has a tendency to freeze. Research has shown that when faced with too many choices, for example, 30 different breakfast cereals at your supermarket, it becomes harder to judge each item on its merit, more difficult to choose and even when you do, you end up less satisfied with the choice you made. Most likely, you simply pick the last brand of cereal you bought because you didn’t want to look at each item yet still wondered if you might have been more satisfied with a different product.
Faced with a new project, you might actually make quicker progress if you had less information. Let me be clear. This is not a suggestion to skip the research phase altogether. There is no substitute for good research. However, the next time you find yourself stuck, ask yourself how much information do I need to proceed to the next step. Search for just that. For example, a writer experiencing writer’s block should only focus on what they need to write the next scene: Character and Environment.