We are constantly making decisions throughout the course of the work day and throughout the course of our lives. So, naturally, people would be interested to know if there were any easier or more efficient ways of going about making decisions. Here are a few ideas on improving decision making.
1. Make decisions routine.
That is, make as many things as you can routine. That way, you avoid having to make a decision at all. One well known example of this is Barack Obama, who said that he wears only one or two colors of suits, so he doesn’t have to waste time and energy in the morning making a decision about his clothing.
If we make a routine like this of the many little tasks we need to perform during the day, we will likewise save time and energy in having to make decisions.
2. Look at causes and consequences.
Another way to make decisions is to look at a situation as a cause and effect, what some have called an if-then proposition. For example, if you take a certain course of action X, then that will result in Y. This will help you get some sense of what the consequences of a certain decision will be.
3. Make decision time dependent.
Many decisions are not simple ones to make. There are no easy solutions. All of the choices are ambiguous in terms of whether they will produce a positive outcome or not. So, if no choice is clearly superior, the best course of action is simply to force a decision by setting a time limit. In other words, making a deadline, telling yourself you have to make a decision within the next 15 or 30 minutes.
You might resist this solution, believing that it is not very effective. But it has advantages. First of all, by continuing to ponder your decision, without a clear deadline, you simply waste a lot of time that you could probably put to better use. And, in the end, when you finally do make your decision, you have no better knowledge of how it will turn out anyhow – and you have lost a lot of time as well.
Certainly, you want to gather as much information as you can to help you make your best choice, or maybe weigh pros and cons. But after you have done that, set a deadline and decide.
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