Why incremental polishing is a waste of time

You’ve made up your mind 90%. But sometimes, right at the end, the remaining 10% veers uncontrollably into a black hole of overthinking. "I just want to tweak it to make it a little better. It's almost ready. I just need a bit more information. Once I have that, I’ll know for sure.”

I've come to the conclusion that spending a lot of time adding incremental polish is not helpful.

Why do we feel the urge to do it in the first place?

It seems to happen especially for decisions that seem high-stakes.

You want to do it right.

You want to give yourself the best shot possible.

You want to avoid re-work.

This one is big for me: You want to really understand the situation to prevent avoidable, expensive mistakes down the road.

All of those are legitimate concerns.

It seems like more time and more thinking is the solution to arrive at CERTAINTY.

This idea of incremental polish doesn't just apply to applications, it applies to anything you ship.

An important email.

Picking which vendor to use.

Preparing for a meeting that might be uncomfortable.

Deciding on a strategy.

Even writing a tweet.

There's a pull toward incremental polish, the nagging whisper that keeps saying: "I just need a bit more time to work on this."

Whenever I catch myself thinking this way, I have to stop.

Will that extra information help you decide? Or will it just help your ego feel better because you subjected yourself to internal agony? If that internal agony didn't actually get you closer to a smart decision, perhaps you could skip that part altogether.

It requires admitting two things to yourself:

1. No one is certain of the outcome. It might work and it might not.

2. You alone are responsible for making the decision.

As Seth says, "You don't need more time, you just need to decide."

PS altMBA applications close tomorrow at lunch time in NY.