How Overcoming Overthinking can Make You Better at Your Job

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s about a key strategic decision, how to best end an important email or even just picking something for dinner. Overcoming overthinking can be incredibly hard for some people.

Overthinking can be very detrimental to your organisation’s success. Not having belief in your ability to be decisive can lead to poor productivity, delays, and negatively impacted work relationships. But how can we learn to become decisive and stop overthinking our decisions?

Today, we’ll share with you some helpful ways to train your brain to deal with overthinking.

Overcoming Overthinking can be a real headscratcher. But our tips below can help.

First, let’s get one thing clear. There’s nothing wrong with thinking hard about your job. Sometimes important decisions need a lot of thought. There’s also nothing wrong with thinking about work when you’re at home, sometimes our best ideas come to us when we’re outside of the professional space.

 

However, it’s important to recognise when productive thinking turns into overthinking. When you’re not planning or resolving and you’re just circling around without purpose, this is overthinking and it can have a big impact on your mental health, stress levels and your job performance.

 

Learn more about tackling stress in the workplace.

 

What Type of Overthinker are you?

The first thing you need to figure out is what type of overthinker you are. Do you tend to ruminate repeatedly on decisions you made last week? Do you lie awake at night going over and over an embarrassing conversation, endlessly analysing what you said and what the other person thought of you? This vicious cycle is a very common form of overthinking that can have a big impact on your confidence and self-belief.

If that sounds familiar, then there’s a few things you can try to cut out the ruminating and get back to a good night’s sleep.

What Does it Take to Overcome Overthinking?

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt

It’s easy to beat yourself up over something you think did wrong or embarrassing but try to imagine how you would feel if that thing had happened to somebody else. How would you feel towards that person? People who have problems with anxiety and overthinking can be so focused on their own failings that they don’t recognise that often other people might not have noticed or cared about what you did wrong! Practicing self-compassion can help you quit agonising over your own mistakes.

 

Focus on the positives

If you feel yourself spiralling into a negative cycle of thoughts, try and get back on track by focusing on what makes you feel happy and successful.

  • Write down three things that you did well this week, or three things you’re looking forward to.
  • Distract yourself by watching a favourite show or listening to music.
  • Exercise, or even go outside for a little fresh air.

Improving your mood can help you break the cycle of negative thoughts and get back to problem solving. Reducing stress and improving your mental wellbeing will keep you from entering the negative headspace that can lead to rumination. Mental health problems are something many people deal with and to learn more about how you can improve your personal resilience and wellbeing, take a look at our virtual course.

 

Think long-term

Will this problem really matter in a years’ time? What about five? Or ten? Understanding the scale of the problem when you’re in the middle of it can be hard but getting some perspective can be key.

If one day, you’ll look back and wonder why this trivial issue felt so stressful… why can’t that day be today?

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6 Ways to Stop Overanalysing Your Decisions

Another very common form of overthinking occurs when you have a decision to make, and you can’t bring yourself to just commit to a choice. This can be due to fear of failure, a perfectionist streak or worries about what others will think. Learning how to break analysis paralysis can be hard but there are some things you can do:

1. Set personal deadlines- and stick to them!

By setting yourself a hard deadline, you can start to practice commitment to your choices. Start practicing with small things, like always deciding what you’re having for dinner by 4pm. No exception! Learning to commit to a decision and follow through firmly, even with something low stake can help you to hone your instincts and give you a vital level of trust in your own decision-making abilities.

2. Embrace uncertainty

No matter how much you overthink something, how much you plan and analyse every detail of every potential choice, you cannot predict the future. And that’s ok! We’re not always going to make the best choice every time. Accepting this can help you come to terms with your indecision. Have faith in your ability to make a good decision and your ability to fix things if it ends up being the wrong decision.

 

This sort of indecision can be common for people who have moved into new roles and are having trouble making decisions that they don’t yet have the experience of doing. If you are moving into a new role, particularly moving into a leadership position for the first time, you might be interested in our course covering leadership skills for emerging managers.

 

3. Overcoming the Imposter

One thing you might have noticed so far that is quite common with overthinking of all types is that it often occurs when you are unsure of your abilities. If you can build more positive attitude towards yourself, you can trust your choices and overcome overthinking. However, this can be difficult for people who might be dealing with Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome makes you feel like your accomplishments are inadequate, your skillset deficient and that any minute now your peers will realise you’re a fraud. So, you can see how feeling like a fraud goes hand in hand with overthinking. Imposter Syndrome is very common with upwards of 82% of people struggling with it at some point in their life. Dispelling the feeling of being an imposter could go a long way to ending an overthinking habit.

 

4. Perfection isn’t everything

Feeling like you need to be the best at everything can easily lead to imposter feelings when you don’t reach that incredibly high level you’ve set for yourself. Working harder to combat the negative thoughts in your head can just lead to burnout. It's a vicious cycle so don’t feel bad when you don’t meet an impossible standard.

Learn more about burnout and how to avoid it

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

Seeing a colleague outperform you at work or who’s able to handle tasks you find hard with ease. This can be a significant driver of imposter syndrome. Realise that everyone has their own merits and while you might be jealous of a peer’s technological skill, they might be equally jealous of your work.

 

6. Speak to somebody

Friends, family, and colleagues can be a brilliant source of comfort and validation when you feel like you don't belong. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and don’t be surprised when people assure you that you are not an imposter.

Overcoming Overthinking Won’t Happen Overnight - But Here’s How to Get Started

It’ll take time, patience, and a real willingness to examine your own thought patterns. Trying to put the above tips into practice will be a great start, and if you want to know more about how to stop overthinking, check the full agenda for our upcoming course 'Overcoming Overthinking' for expert tips and techniques.