Don’t Think Too Much

“Don’t think too much”

Now try singing it.

“Don’t think too much”

Don’t think too much. I credit the singing to Aramis O’Reilly, a faculty member from my high school days at New World School of the Arts in South Florida many moons ago. Here’s a nice clip introducing Mr.O’Reilly from 2014.

O’Reilly would walk the studio, as we sketch, paint, or sculpt singing his mantra “don’t think too much“.

I’ve carried this into the life-model drawing I occasionally still do as an adult. And it applies to improv and product design as well.

Don’t think too much.

In Improv

Covid-19 and quarantine has changed how a lot of aspects of the world run. For my improv team, The Flood, we have shifted to virtual hangouts and practices. Meeting weekly, we often spend more time catching up than practicing improv scenes, which is great, these folks are close friends.

But when we do practice improv, we are rusty. We overthink the technology (“wait, let’s get a background that matches the environment“), we overthink our characters (“so for this scene, I want to be the X role“), we overanalyze our prep (“let’s make sure we add this detail, or that detail to the monologue“).

But ultimately, improv is about reacting. It’s about being in the moment. It’s about not thinking too much.

In our latest rehearsal, this was a tough, but necessary reminder.

Don’t think too much. Don’t overthink the backgrounds Zoom offers. We switched to a solid color background so we aren’t distracted by our homes or searching for a clever image in google. After all, in person we don’t have backgrounds, we use scene painting to create an environment.

Don’t think too much. Don’t overthink what character or role we want to be. If you want to be the manager, or the patron, or the person on the side, then be that person. Don’t announce it and wait. Start performing as it.

Don’t think too much. Don’t overanalyze monologues or details. If something is missing, create it. If something is unnecessary, drop it.

Improv is meant to be fun. Don’t think too much. Enjoy it.

Don’t think too much.

In Product Design

In product design, how often do we overthink our solution. How often do we hear the following things from teams “we need to get the design right” or “what are we missing to move forward” or “what are the answers to these ten blockers”? In product design, like in improv, like in sketching we should not think too much.

Don’t think too much. Don’t overthink the solution that it needs to be right. Assuming we have ongoing research and concept validation, the solution doesn’t need to be right if it provides us with valuable information on the right direction.

Don’t think too much. Don’t overthink the unknowns. We are looking to discovery, analyze, refine.

Don’t think too much. Don’t mistake blockers for constraints. What reasonable assumptions can we make? What blocker is most critical and how can we move forward and explore the others together?

Don’t think too much.

In Life

This is a mantra I’ve carried with myself for over 20 years. It’s powerful. It’s simple. It’s meaningful. And it applies to nearly all aspects of life – both personally, socially, and professionally.

Don’t think too much.

– Aramis O’Reilly

Interested in Collaborative Improv? Grab the book here!

Want to try your hand at improv? Monthly improv jams are hosted the second Thursday of each month. Read about our last jam, or register here.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Think Too Much

  1. Hi. I have a calendar that says a jam is  tonight. (5pm to 6 pm )my time pst.   If so where is the link. Or did I miss it ???Thanks Donna


    1. Donna, The Jams are scheduled for the second Thursday of each month, at 8PM EDT. The next jam is Thursday, July 9th – the registration link is below:

      All the best,


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