Don’t Overthink. Just Do.

Actions carry you further. Find purpose and urgency. Get feedback.

Xtian Miller
Aug 21, 2017 · 4 min read

‘Constant thinking will not take you far from the place you are now. Actions will.’

Max Lukominskyi • The Mission

You can think till the cows come home, but you’ll make no progress unless you start doing. Until you start translating your thoughts or ideas into actions, they’re worthless. The best thought out ideas are worth nothing unless executed. A bad idea carried out will do more for you than a good idea that isn’t. Even with a bad idea, you’ll have something to build on or learn from, and it may inspire you in ways you didn’t think was possible. Think about that. As a creative, you should be producing more ideas than actually thinking about them. On paper it sounds unintuitive, and frankly a little daft, but you’ll end up achieving more than you think. Actions will carry you further than thoughts.

‘Don’t Overthink. Do.’

Thomas Oppong • Medium

There’s a sweet spot between jumping head first into an idea without much thought, and over-thinking it to the point of not carrying it out at all. Ideas should need to pass a criteria that you weigh based on your goals, but over-thinking them can lead to doubt, which can lead to inactivity. You can never make things perfect in your mind; your thoughts are continually in motion. Imperfect. Switching between dreams, expectations, and reality. Getting started allows you to gain momentum through the self-doubt. Be wary of over-thought, because even great ideas can be dismissed.

‘Live like everything is on the line. Know intuitively that whatever you have in your life is a bonus.’

Benjamin P. Hardy • Inc

With the amount of daily distractions around us, it’s pretty easy to get derailed. It can become difficult to find the time and motivation to address certain goals and ambitions, so they are put on the back-burner. The problem is, the longer they’re idle and not being addressed, the more likely they’ll end up being scrapped. The truth is, you can be excited about your ideas and ambitions one day, but feel the opposite the next. This is a pretty common cycle that most creatives struggle with — I know I do. There’s one ingredient missing, and it’s not passion. It’s urgency.

Urgency can give you an overwhelming desire to resolve something before it’s too late—even when you don’t feel like it. If you only had one day on this planet to make an impression, what would you do? What purpose would give you enough urgency to want to execute above all else? It’s likely that with only a limited time available, you would narrow your focus pretty quickly, and your productivity would go into overdrive. Find a purpose which will give you urgency, and appreciate any little contribution you can make to it. Make every minute count.

‘If you’re not throwing things away you aren’t replacing them with anything better.’

Adam Darowski • Interface Lovers

Good is a smokescreen that prevents you from seeing great, because it’s challenging to dismiss an already good idea to order to pursue a better one. Knowing when a good idea can be even better is a fine art that requires generating and throwing away lots of ideas, with tons of iteration along the way. Every creative should learn to be comfortable with that. One technique to make that easier is to simply green light as many ideas as possible, no matter how bad they are. It can be liberating for productivity because you are generating without too much concern — the door is left open for you to embark on as much creative exploration as possible.

This is how idea generation can be successful; it’s about putting lots of initial options on the table. Paint with bigger brush strokes instead of wasting too much thought on a single idea. You can’t afford to be too deep into one idea at the very beginning. Once you weigh the options, you start applying selective perfectionism. Too much perfectionism can harm your creativity and have an impact on your productivity, but a small dosage applied in certain areas can help take your ideas to the next level.

‘You’ll only get better if you learn to take advantage of the feedback that is given to you.’

José Torre •

Regular feedback is great for productivity. It is the lifeblood of any good creative, especially in the early stages of their career—you have to take tactical advantage of feedback whenever you can. It’s much harder to be self-critical and accurately analyze your own flaws without experience, because pride and bias can cloud your judgement. Designers, for example, have a natural tendency to defend their own work at all costs—subjectively or with post-design rationalization.

The best way to improve is to share your work early, and frequently—even when it’s unfinished. Always be ready to expect the unpleasant so you’re less likely to take it personally. Even if you don’t receive constructive feedback, simply showing your work to others can induce a form of self-consciousness; elevating a sense of perception about how you feel about it out in the open. Flaws are more apparent to you than when reviewing alone.

The more comfortable you are with feedback and leveraging it on a regular basis, the less concerned you’ll be with anticipating what others might think and put more focus on the execution. You’ll concern yourself more with being productive, and have an urgency to create without over-thinking.

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