Sometimes trivial decisions, like picking what shirt to wear or what toothpaste to buy, cause us moments of hesitation. So then what happens when we are faced with bigger decisions like what job to take or which house to buy? Decision, or really indecision, can cause delays of hours, days, weeks, or even longer. Every decision that we make has a tradeoff that requires some compromise. If we take one opportunity then we aren’t free to take a different one. If I take the new job in Chicago, then I can’t pursue an opportunity in Dallas. Who should I hire or which products should I pursue? Fear of picking the wrong option leads us to picking no option at all. In business this can create a scenario where nothing gets done. Thankfully choosing well doesn’t have to mean choosing slowly, you just need to set yourself up for decision-making success. Follow these three tips for making difficult decisions.
Reduce the Number of Decisions You Have to Make Each Day
Do you know how many decisions you make in a typical day? The more responsibility we take on in our lives, whether in the office or out of the office, the more decisions we’re forced to make. A recent study from Columbia University found that, on average, Americans make 70 conscious decisions a day. All of that decision making can lead to decision fatigue.
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure we can face a hard decision is to start by making fewer decisions. Begin by making habits, or automating some of the simpler decisions of your day. Try always eating the same thing for lunch. Ask the waiter at dinner for his or her recommendation rather than perusing the entire menu. Set up a subscription to have routine household items shipped regularly to your home. By avoiding some of these decisions entirely you can save your decision-making energy for more important choices.
Automation and outsourcing are excellent ways to reduce decision making at the office. Set up automation software to help with customer follow-up, meeting reminders, and invoice requests. Consider outsourcing marketing, human resources, or payroll tasks to free up time to focus on other business operations.
You can also learn to do more with less. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need as much information as possible before you’re able to make a choice, but too much of a good thing might be bad. Too much research into a decision could hurt as much as it helps. Too much information can lead to mental overload and indecision. Learn to recognize when the data doesn’t help or just becomes too much.
Practice Being Decisive
Have you ever spent more time scrolling through streaming service trying to decide what to watch, than actually watching a program? Do you ever think about when to run out to the gym, trying to plan it between other activities, and never actually make it to the gym? Eating the same thing for lunch or reducing the clothing options in your wardrobe helps with routine decision making, but doesn’t help with making unpredictable choices. Here is where practice makes progress.
You can start building your decision-making muscles by quickly making trivial choices. Rather than scrolling through a streaming service endlessly, set a time. Give yourself 1 minute to decide what you’ll watch, or what you’ll order for lunch, or when you’re going to the gym. Then follow through with that decision. It will probably be hard at first, but the worst case is that you pick a movie you don’t enjoy but can turn off. Or you order a lunch that isn’t your favorite, but you can look forward to dinner later.
You can practice being decisive with small choices at work as well. Is your email inbox overflowing? Go through your email and make a decision about each piece of mail: deleting, filing, or responding. Need to schedule a meeting? Give yourself 1 minute to choose the time and send the invite. Maybe you’re in charge of selecting a new promotional item as a reward for employees. Quickly choose from Safeguard’s most popular items like pens, mugs, totes, or caps. Making small decisions quickly can help train your brain to think through options faster.
Consider The Long Term
From the moment our alarms go off in the morning we find ourselves in reaction mode. Decision-making often requires a few deep breaths and a brain shift from reaction to strategy mode. In order to make a meaningful decision, you need to commit to thinking about any long-term effects. You also need to have a clear vision of what it is that you really want. Sometimes struggling to make a decision is a sign that you’re not really happy with either of the options. Before jumping to a conclusion, consider the consequences of your decision. Stop thinking about what will happen in the next few hours or even days, and begin thinking in years.
No one makes perfect decisions all of the time. But that doesn’t mean you should feel powerless, or leave a decision to the toss of a coin. When you’re faced with big decisions you can put yourself in a position to make the best choice by following these tips. At Safeguard we can help you with advice, solutions, and products that make running your business easier. You’ll even get personal attention from your local Safeguard consultant. Contact us to get started today.