How much research is enough?


I have a problem. Unless I have a fixed deadline, I often find myself endlessly researching a subject because, you know, there might be other citations, articles, examples, or ideas. Something I need or might be able to use. 

And I don’t want to miss it. 

Do you ever feel that way? 

Why are we like this? Perfectionism? Self doubt? Fear of making a mistake or leaving out something important? 

Anyway, does it really matter why we do it? We do it and we want to know how to stop. Maybe we innately know that the more time we spend on research, the greater the risk we’ll lose interest in the project or get another idea and start working on that instead. 

Rabbit holes. 

We can do the grownup thing and ask ourselves if we’re seen this idea (or something very similar) before. Is it cumulative? Does it give us the essentials—the 20% that deliver 80% of the results? 

Sometimes this works. And sometimes, it makes it worse because we feel compelled to “re-search” to confirm or deny what we see or what we think it means.  

It’s a curse.

Okay, advice. If you don’t have a fixed deadline, pretend you do. 

Promise the client you’ll get the work done by a certain date. If there is no client, promise your secretary, your wife, your coach, or your partner. Maybe put some teeth in it by also promising a penalty if you don’t deliver. 

When we are accountable to someone else, we usually do it. 

What if that’s not in the cards? It’s just you and your unfinished project or unrealized goal? 

What then, you ask? 

I don’t know. I need to do more research.