Harvard Business Review: How to Stop Overthinking Everything
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Harvard Business Review: How to Stop Overthinking Everything

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Harvard Business Review: How to Stop Overthinking Everything

Read How to Stop Overthinking Everything by Melody Wilding, from Harvard Business Review, February 10, 2021.

Many of my friends and former colleagues would likely describe themselves as overthinkers. I am grateful that my decision-making process has allowed me to avoid the worst of the feelings that can come with this behavior. But as someone who has supervised someone who was an overthinker, I felt it important to know and understand how to help.

Melody Wilding, in How to Stop Overthinking Everything, shares “Deliberation is an admirable and essential leadership quality that undoubtedly produces better outcomes. But…there comes a point in decision making where helpful contemplation turns into overthinking.” Below are the five ways people can address their overthinking tendencies (or help those we work with to address them).

1. Put aside perfectionism

Perfectionism is one of the biggest blockers to swift, effective decision-making because it operates on faulty all-or-nothing thinking. For example, perfectionism can lead you to believe that if you don’t make the “correct” choice (as if there is only one right option), then you are a failure. Or that you must know everything, anticipate every eventuality, and have a thorough plan in place before making a move. Trying to weigh every possible outcome and consideration is paralyzing.

2. Right-size the problem 

Some decisions are worth mulling over, while others are not. Before you make a call, write down what goals, priorities, or people in your life will be impacted. This will help you differentiate between what’s meaningful and what’s not worth obsessing over.

3. Leverage the underestimated power of intuition

Intuition works like a mental pattern matching game. The brain considers a situation, quickly assesses all your experiences, and then makes the best decision given the context. This automatic process is faster than rational thought, which means intuition is a necessary decision-making tool when time is short and traditional data is not available. In fact, research shows that pairing intuition with analytical thinking helps you make better, faster, and more accurate decisions and gives you more confidence in your choices than relying on intellect alone.

4. Limit the drain of decision fatigue 

Create routines and rituals to conserve your brainpower, like a weekly meal plan or capsule wardrobe. Similarly, look for opportunities to eliminate certain decisions altogether, such as by instituting best practices and standardized protocols, delegating, or removing yourself from meetings.

5. Construct creative constraints

I’ve observed a similar principle [to Parkinson’s Law] among sensitive strivers — that overthinking expands to the time we allow it. In other words, if you give yourself one week to worry about something that is actually a one-hour task, you will waste an inordinate amount of time and energy.

You can curb this tendency by creating accountability through creative constraints. For example, determine a date or time by which you’ll make a choice. Put it in your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or even contact the person who is waiting for your decision and let them know when they can expect to hear from you. A favorite practice of my clients is “worry time,” which involves earmarking a short period of the day to constructively problem solve.

Continue reading How to Stop Overthinking Everything by Melody Wilding, from Harvard Business Review, February 10, 2021.


Inside Higher Ed: Learning to Listen in Polarized Times

Read Learning to Listen in Polarized Times by Ronald A. Crutcher, from Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2021.

As I was reading through this opinion piece, one statistic stuck out at me worth noting, above all overs:

Six out of 10 students today can recall an instance when they self-censored opinions because they worried how their peers or professors would respond, according to a recent survey. How can anyone learn anything if they are afraid of making a mistake, or offending, or asking an insensitive question?

by Ronald A. Crutcher, from Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2021

The author, Ronald Crutcher, shares how we must continue to learn lessons from past efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. In particular, he points out to diversity efforts made in the 1960s, where “most students, whatever their color or background, come to college with little experience building cross-cultural relationships. As we now recognize, we must be intentional about leveraging diversity as an educational benefit if we are to succeed in graduating empathetic listeners capable of navigating and bridging divides.”

He suggests that colleges and universities are primed to help students learn how to navigate the oft-turbulent waters of social change. He suggests, “To succeed, colleges and universities must recommit to helping students become active listeners with the inner strength to weather the challenging and even offensive views they will inevitably encounter in democratic life.”

The author brought up an interesting point. In what ways is your institution or organization identifying skills that help bring students together rather than further apart? What skills are you personally practicing? I think this is worthy of more discussion.

Continue reading Learning to Listen in Polarized Times by Ronald A. Crutcher, from Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2021.


Diverse Issues: Declines in Community College Enrollment Among Blacks Will Have Long-Term Consequences

Read Declines in Community College Enrollment Among Blacks Will Have Long-Term Consequences by Henry Shannon, from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, February 8, 2021.

As colleges look at their Fall enrollment, they should be worried about who is not showing up.

Community colleges throughout the U.S. have experienced dramatic decreases in enrollment among students of color since the pandemic began. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, fall enrollment among community college undergraduate students overall declined by nearly 19 percent. Community colleges reported a 19 percent decrease in enrollment among Black men and a 16 percent decrease for Latino men.

by Henry Shannon, from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, February 8, 2021

Consider the following:

  • 2018 Johns Hopkins University study showed that Black students who had had just one Black teacher by the third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college. Students with two or more were 32 percent more likely.
  • While more and more college students are enrolling in STEM programs, representation gaps also persist. And as a result, fewer Blacks are represented in the workforce in areas like healthcare, research, computer science, and more. This contributes to a lack of innovation and understanding that can have devastating results.
  • peer-reviewed study showed that Black babies die three times more often in the U.S. than White babies during initial hospital stays. But their mortality rate is reduced by half when they are cared for by Black doctors.

We should be paying attention to the efforts of all higher education institutions as they work to bring their enrollments back to pre-pandemic times. I know I plan to ask more critical questions.

Continue reading Declines in Community College Enrollment Among Blacks Will Have Long-Term Consequences by Henry Shannon, from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, February 8, 2021.


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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