Is Over Analysis Bogging You Down?

“Paralysis by Analysis” may be affecting the productivity of you or some of your colleagues.  Are important deadlines being missed?  In the ag lending business, we have many of these.  It may be rushing to get a loan funded prior to maturity to avoid the dreaded ‘extension’, which leaves nobody happy.  An escrow may be closing.  It may be putting your loan package together for loan committee for approval or a portfolio update to senior management might be the fire drill of the day.  Whatever the reason, it is important these deadlines be met, or it will be reflection on your client experience.

There are many reasons the farm loan processes can be delayed, but do not let it be over analysis.  In most cases you are dealing with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, pennies are not important.  Do not keep trying to reconcile to the penny.  Round your numbers to hundreds or thousands, depending on the size of loans you are dealing with. 

When budgeting, use rounded numbers based on historical actuals.  Budget projections are only your best guess as to what might happen in the upcoming season or seasons and you be rounded to at least hundreds.  Only state the important facts on industry analysis.  The unlimited access to information on the internet can add to the indecision issue and stress.  Use it only as a tool to arrive at a quicker outcome or decision.

If you find yourself trying to answer every conceivable question or have a fear of making a wrong decision that may come up when presenting your loan package or other report, you are likely over analyzing or overthinking.  Most of the time, those questions you are trying to cover with in-depth analysis will never be asked.  If they are, you will more than likely have the answers in your file or notes and can answer the question right away or get back to them later. 

If you are constantly having trouble coming to a decision after considerable analysis, you are likely over analyzing.  Do not fear decision making.  If a decision is wrong, learn from it, and each subsequent decision will get easier.   It is not possible to plan for every outcome or possibility, so don’t try.  This not only applies to your work situation, but everyday life as well.

Most of us continually strive for perfection, which is not a bad thing.  But reality is we never really reach it.  In most cases 80%-90% of perfection is all we can realistically achieve and still balance the time constraints of what we are trying to accomplish.  Trying to reach that last 10% or 20% may ultimately be your undoing. 

If a painter were to finally reach perfection on a painting, they would stop painting altogether, as they now have nothing to work towards.  The same applies to the workplace.  Strive for perfection but be satisfied knowing you are never really going to get there.

Balance may be the best term to describe work efforts.  Balance the time frame you must work within with the amount of work to be done.  Start as soon as can and do not wait until the last minute.  Get help when you can if the project is overwhelming.  Use available technology to shorten your tasks.  Become a proficient user of all available software for word processing, spreadsheets, slide presentations and remote conferencing. 

Bottom line is to find a process of analysis to allow you to work through the process in the time allotted and arrive at a reasonable outcome or decision without trying to solve for every conceivable outcome by over analyzing or overthinking.  Practice being less than perfect, and you will ultimately be less exhausted and feel better about yourself.

Roy Martin, Conterra Ag VP Relationship Manager, is based in Fresno, California and works throughout the Southwest.  Roy has over 40 years of agricultural finance and ag lending experience… and he plays a mean harmonica. If you’re ready to refinance or make your next farmland purchase and have questions, you can talk ag with Roy at Roy.Martin@ConterraAg.com

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