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.
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.
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.
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:
- Take a page from the Oprah Winfrey playbook and start every meeting with the same three sentences: "What is our intention for this meeting? What's important? What matters?"
- Take a page from the Jeff Bezos playbook and stick to two pizza meetings. (No team should be larger than the number of people that can be adequately fed by two large pizzas.)
- Take a page from science and ban cellphones; research shows your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your phone is within reach.
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.