Brains are weird. I’ve been trying to be a lot more aware of the thought patterns I have over the last 2.5 years, and my partner and I discuss stuff like this a lot. We’ve discovered that we both approach tasks in different ways…
There are two common symptoms that come into play here: impulsivity and overthinking/hyperfixation. My immediate reaction to any task, decision, or just about anything is to jump in with both feet and figure out the details along the way. Because, hey, anything that comes up as a blocker can be dealt with when we get to it. However, this has bitten me in the arse many times.
The worst of it is usually at airports. Like the time I booked my flights for a conference last minute, only to discover, at the airport, that I had booked for a month later (cue another expensive last-minute flight purchase). Or not reading Covid restrictions carefully enough and realising that both of us didn’t have the required paperwork whilst trying to check into our flight… for the flight home 😬.
More mundane, but an ongoing challenge, is that it also means I find it really hard to set realistic deadlines at work, which is something that I keep getting better at but is always a struggle.
I’ve had to train myself to be super thorough in particular contexts (flying overseas, preparing for a gig, launching big projects at work), but it needs to be something I can allow myself to hyperfixate on and let my overthinking brain go into overdrive. This brings me to those two… My partner is almost the opposite. They have a tendency to stop and overanalyse what’s going on and need to make sure all the ducks are in line to make a decision. Going out for a drink? Then what time does it close? Where will we get food? Do we need to book anything? What time is the last train? Who is going to be there and do they want to be there? Will it be overstimulating there? A seemingly simple decision can spiral into an anxious mess of overthinking.
In saying that, all of those questions are valuable pieces of information where the right answers combine to make a good night. Also, that kind of thinking is great if you’re planning anything that has implications (which a lot of life does). On the flip side, impulsivity is great to have a sense of ease in life. Or realise that choosing what to have for lunch doesn’t require a spreadsheet. In different contexts, either can be a super-power or a massive hindrance, and it’s about teaching ourselves the coping mechanisms to make life easier where our brains don’t naturally want to help us.
(for me it’s bullet journal lists… but that’s another post)