Access to information is great, but that access often results in the Deep Dive Effect: Post "research," your simple idea, while once inspiring -- because the simple ideas are always the most exciting ideas -- now seems overwhelmingly complex. 

Take starting a side hustle. After a deep dive into market research and branding and accounting and tax planning and solo 401(k)s... building a few decks for people in your neighborhood can seem way too complicated.

So you don't.

Even though, as Richard Branson says, the key to business success is simple: "Work hard, take your chances, and seize opportunities when they present themselves."

Branson might say, get started. Find a customer. Work hard and do an awesome job. Seize the opportunities word of mouth generates. Seize the opportunity to learn other aspects of business by doing -- and by natural progression. (You don't need to learn about solo 401(k)s until you've actually made a profit.)

Those simple habits are self-supporting. Work hard and you'll naturally get more opportunities. Seize those opportunities and the hard work you put in will create more opportunities to seize and more chances to take.

The same is true for losing weight. After a deep dive into diets and macros and micros and supplements and juice cleanses and gluten and eating clay to help you excrete "materials" (that's actually a thing)... and eating healthier can seem way too complicated.

So you don't.

Even though, as Ashley Richmond, the founder of Momentum Habits, writes, "The difference between the best shape of your life and the worst shape of your life is 2 to 3 core habits."

Those three habits? You could adopt the Mediterranean diet, eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and poultry. You could make sure you get enough sleep every day. And you could exercise -- even if that's "just" walking" -- every day. 

The cool thing is, simple habits tend to be self-supporting. 

A 2018 study indicates eating a Mediterranean diet can make you one-third as likely to suffer from insomnia and nearly 1.5 times more likely to get a good night's sleep. Combine that with the 2012 study that found reduced sleep leads to a significant increase in eating, since lack of sleep causes increased activity in your brain's reward centers specific to food, and with a 2015 study that shows exercise improves sleep.

Which makes each habit even more powerful.

How to Avoid the Deep Dive Effect

The next time you  want to achieve something, keep your research simple. Avoid deep dives into esoterica. Search for two or three things you can -- and will -- consistently do that can make the biggest difference.

For example:

Want to get new employees off to a great start? 

Keep it simple and do what Google does:

  • Meet every new hire on their first day. (You'll be surprised by how many business owners and managers don't.)
  • Match the new hire with a peer buddy. 
  • Set up monthly check-ins for at least the first six months.

Do those three things, and you'll get new hires up to speed much faster.

Want to make your meetings as focused and productive as possible?

Keep it simple:

Do those three things and your meetings will be more focused and productive. (But keep in mind research also shows that not holding so many meetings is the fastest way to increase employee productivity and engagement.)

After all, too much knowledge can sometimes be a bigger problem than too little.

You don't have to know everything to get started; in fact, knowing too much makes it much less likely you will actually start.

You just have to know what matters.

Because the surest path to success is to determine the two or three things that will make the biggest difference.

And then actually do them, each and every day.