Analysis Paralysis


If you’re reading this blog, there’s no doubt that you’ve suffered from analysis paralysis. You’ve got to build that chicken coop, but you’re spending hours pouring over books, Pinterest boards and how-to websites. Add endless debates with your spouse and you’ve got a recipe for inaction. “Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought” is the way Shakespeare describes this condition in Hamlet.

The re-design of our backyard lead to the worst analysis paralysis I’ve ever experienced. Weeks went by with no progress. Ideas came and went. The internet made it worse by providing way too many possibilities.

A quote in a book finally broke my analysis paralysis spell. The gist of that quote was that we are all called by a higher power to build. I realized that I needed to set a deadline, get off my ass and construct the raised beds that I had spend endless hours researching, planning and discussing. I told Mrs. Homegrown that this Saturday I was buying lumber and cutting wood. I quickly drew up plans in SketchUp and started working.

The first hexagonal raised bed attempt came out a bit too small so I went back to SketchUp and re-sized the plans.  My self imposed deadline worked. Within a few hours I had the beds that I wanted and was very pleased with the results. The analysis paralysis spell was broken. What had been a concept on a computer screen become reality in short order. It felt good.

Sometimes life is a struggle, but increasingly I feel the need to build more and struggle less. No more neighborhood council meetings. I’m fatigued reading about the latest political outrage, petitions and pleas in Facebook. At this point in my life I just want to build.

What was your worst case of analysis paralysis? How do you deal with it?

Leave a comment


  1. I’ve had the opposite problem. I’m ostensibly enrolled in an (excellent) online PDC course, and I’ve been reading the texts at every available moment (mostly commutes), but I haven’t had time to do any of the official exercises.
    The reason?
    I’ve been scrambling to apply what little I know to my property, often making tons of avoidable mistakes.
    I need to stop and do some more analysis.

  2. I make spreadsheets and lists. It is how I wrap my head around things. Debating with the spouse? Sigh, we always seem to take the opposite approach.

  3. I agree about being fatigued by outrage over this or that and having my energy sucked up by neighborhood councils, elementary school committees and such. I motivated myself to get some of my projects done (like my chicken coop) by viewing it as therapeutic, the antidote to all the energy sucking, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere nonsense. I can spend a couple of hours working on something and have something to SHOW for my efforts and the reward of knowing I am making our little urban homestead more efficient.

  4. We are feeling the same fatigue of nonsense. We usually plan and work on one big project a year. So far we’ve completed 4 big projects in the past 4 months. An indication of how fed up we are with stupid stuff.

    • Thank you for the phrase “fatigue of nonsense”! I propose that “fatigue” be used as a collective noun, as “murder” is used for a collection of crows. After all, nonsense does seem to come in heaps, and most folks I know are pretty tired of the stuff.

  5. It can be SO hard since we’ve got endless online inspiration and variation. We’re doing some building right now, but so far…no real paralysis. The frame for the garden sink is just go, go, going. I fear the greenhouse plans might be another story…

  6. Personally, I describe it as a personality trait, like Type A B or C. I suffer from it 24/7. Took me a year to start my small flock of chickens, get the coop built, figure out the best feed, measuring, reading, deciding,taking notes. Then it was deciding on the colors of paint to paint the coop (which, btw, is only 1/4 done and it was erected last June), color swatches, changing my mind. Then it was what kind of table scraps, no, yes, maybe, not that, maybe this, forget scraps all together because they may not eat the feed! That was only the chickens! I am now going through it with seeds for spring and summer planting. Make organization boxes,dividers for seeds,years each seed lasts, companion planting, what kind of box…UGH UGH UGH.

    In the olden days people just made mistakes and learned as they went along. Chickens died, plants wilted, and there were no raised beds. We have access to too much information, which only aggravates personalities like mine!

  7. The descent is specifically for the ascent that follows.

    Everything in life is a struggle, a descent, of one kind or another — intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual — because the planet and the entire material realm exists only so that we can build it and ourselves (the ascent) in the process.

    That’s what we’re doing here. That’s why we exist.

    (A bodybuilder actually first destroys her muscle before it can grow back even larger or why a construction crew first digs deep into the earth when building a skyscraper.)

    • Good point–creative destruction is another way to put it.

      Another thing I was thinking about when I wrote this post is a video I saw playing in the window of an Akido studio. It showed the master tossing dozens of students out of the way using their own inertia. At this point in my life I’m tired of facing things head-on.

  8. When I’ve got AP I’m sometimes lucid enough to just go ahead and assume I’ll get it wrong and can fix it later. Or not. Either way, something’s happened and I can get on with the next paralyzing idea.

  9. I go through this every year when I’m pouring over my seed catalogs and planning my garden. My head just swims with possibilities. I waste a lot of time trying to decide between different varieties, set it aside for a couple of weeks, and then usually end up ordering the same seeds I bought the year before and do it quickly because I’m behind in getting started.

  10. @Linda, @Karen

    Seeds are such a time suck! I too look at the catalogs, then read compulsively, and make lists and notes. None of which seem to ever get used, or stored away for future reference. Then I end up buying strange things on a whim, but in the end we end up pretty much planting the same old stuff year after year!

  11. @Linda – I think we are twins, I have re-engineered our coop our coop four times! Then there are the garden beds, what will go there, will it like it, blah, blah, blah. Then I end up with 4 million seedlings and not enough room…. sigh.

  12. Unfortunately, I am rather decisive but do go through planning stages. Since I need someone to execute things now, I suffer from people putting me off when the chore is so tiny. Example: I cannot find my drill. I put the drill and bits together in a canvas bag. Since I can barely do anything most days, searching for the bag and moving, bending, lifting, all are just beyond me. NO ONE I know owns a grill, can find their drill, or has time–for the last six months. I only needs holes in the bottoms of buckets. I do not want to bring the drill home or use it.

    I am not much of a builder, but when I had a table saw, I knew how to get things square and how to use pilot holes. Now, I am frustrated because I get no help even when I have something to offer in exchange. No help=no progress.

    I keep threatening to just buy a new drill, bits, and screw things. Exbf helps me but has never owned a drill or used one. He is not unhelpful, just is unskilled.

    So, it is a whole different problem, just as frustrating, yields little progress. Now, I want hexagonal beds. That last garden design is lovely.

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