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How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis

Students may experience analysis paralysis when they are first trying to figure out how to tackle an assignment. Analysis paralysis is when an individual or group over-analyzes a situation/task to the point where a decision seems too daunting to make and so they become “paralyzed”. This can lead to procrastination due to the student not knowing where to begin. Today, we will address how to break down a complex assignment into small manageable steps.

Breaking Down an Assignment

When evaluating an assignment, it is best to understand when it is due, the assignment’s level of difficulty, and how much work you need to get done each day/week. The strategies below give students a framework to progress even if they are stymied by executive functioning skill deficits (such as organization, time management, and working memory).

  1. Determine how much time you have by working backward from the assignment’s deadline.

  2. Evaluate the amount of understanding you have of the assignment’s contents. Is this assignment something you need a lot or a little help with?

  3. Estimate your work stamina - how much can be done in one sitting.

  4. Calculate how much you'll need to do each day or each week.

  5. Input due dates in your planner and create due dates for yourself.

  6. Have someone help keep you accountable for each assignment. This can be a friend or a family member.

This method reinforces all three of the primary executive functioning skills. Estimating time and making goals is good time management (1) practice. Writing things down helps with working memory (2). And, having someone keep you accountable will assist with self-regulation (3).

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