How much research should you do

On May 11, 2013

Whenever I start with any creative pursuit I end up spending hundreds of hours in reading books, articles and researching about the topic.

I know many of you do the same.

While there are several benefits to doing research, here is one problem I have with them.

They end up wasting a lot of your precious time.

While a little amount of research is essential and even informative, most of them add no real value.

Simply doing tons of research without taking any real actions adds to nothing. A better way is to keep working and continue researching side by side; spending more time on your work and less time on research.

Big corporations can afford months and even years of research, because they have plenty of cash and resources. But a startup can't afford to spend that much time and money simply on research.

If you spend 10 days on research, who will do the work you were supposed to do in those 10 days?

You can do better, and spend more time on the creative process, and use your resources and time to come up with better solutions.

And what if you, like me, are addicted to doing research every time you start a new work? Is there an optimum amount of time you need to spend researching?

Perhaps we need to do another research to find the best answer. But for now you simply do less research, say 5% of your time, and spend 95% time in taking actions.

You've to find the best ratio yourself, and it may vary upon the time and resources you're willing to invest in your work.

But don't you need to know everything before you start with your project? What if you miss something, and regret not knowing it later?

If you do keep looking for all the information, you'll never start with your work. You'll find hundreds or even thousands of experts, and all this information will only confuse you, instead of convincing you.

So figure out what's important to you and get that information fast - only that specific information that's enough to get you started. 

Then once you start with your work, don't think about doing more research, and just keep working.

It takes persistence and patience to produce great things. Only research isn't enough. All your research goes to waste, if you don't make any use of it.

Once you start doing something you keep learning more about it on your own. You don't need any expert, or volumes of data to tell you what to do.

Take the case with blogging. You know what a blog can do for your business, and you always think of starting a blog some day.

You read about creating blogs and making a successful blog all the time. You've read ten, hundred, or even a thousand articles about blogging. But have you started your killer blog yet?

Instead of reading and thinking about blogging, why not start a blog, post few articles and learn firsthand about blogging? Is it really that hard?

All it takes is a few hours to do a basic setup, and what remains is only taking sometime out of your routine and posting something useful. How much research do you need to convince yourself to do that?

And when you do take action, you're already ahead of the person who is still thinking about starting a blog. You start learning from your mistakes. You start improvising with each post. You start learning the tricks behind successful blogging.

You learn to create error free and quality content. You start adding value to your reader's life. You start selling more products. You start gaining influence.

And all this happens because you took real actions. And once you take actions, you can always go back every once in a while, and do some more research to know things that can improve your work. And then get back to work and do those things.

The same rules apply to any work - be it programming, designing, running your startup; anything.

The best way is to learn and do all the time. You learn something, apply it, and again learn and apply. This is what makes you grow steadily.

The key is to do more work and less research.

Research, when combined with real actions fulfills its purpose.

Instead of reading everything that exists on a particular topic, and spending hours on thinking what to do, apply what you learned in small parts, and see if it works for you.

If it does, great, else try something different.

That's all you need to know.

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