In my last article I talked about overcoming indecision and I gave some tips for people that are unable to decide or take a lot of time to decide simple things. Here, I want to dive deeper in the decision-making process and explain some techniques that will help you analyze decisions better and choose with more confidence.
When we’re talking about making quality decisions, a factor that plays an important role in the process is the time we spend making decisions. There’s this phenomenon called “decision fatigue” which states that the quality of your decisions worsen the more time we spend thinking them. In plain words, by reducing the time spent making decisions, you can increase the quality of them. Sounds rational, now the problem is, how can we make good decisions quickly?
Before diving into the techniques, I’d like to differentiate 2 types of decisions:
- Reversible decisions, the ones which can be undone, for example decide a book to read (as you can always pick another book). My advice for this type of decisions is to pick quickly and once you have time to evaluate what you decided you can either stick with your decision or change it.
- Irreversible decisions, the once that once you made there’s no turning back. Those more complex because you have to make sure you decide the best option.
With this differentiation in mind, we can go through my decision-making process step by step.
First, I like to rely on some rules to make some trivial decisions effortless and preserve some of my “decision energy” for later. Let’s assume that you have the rule to not go out on weekdays during the exam period. If you’re committed to this rule, you’ll reject much easier proposals of going out, and you won’t have to be thinking about missing out or anything like that. You can create as many rules as you want to, some of my rules include:
- Workout every weekday
- Don’t go out on weekdays unless I’ve finished all my tasks
- Don’t drink sugary drinks while eating
- Eat chocolate every day (yep, that’s a must)
Now, rules are helpful for basic decisions, but they don’t work at all for more complex decisions.
When you find yourself struggling with a rough decisions, you may have thought of doing some pro/cons analysis. Although this technique could be beneficial, most times you’ll end up writing two lists of random items with unequal value. A better way to analyze decisions is to use risk/benefit, by doing so you’ll create a list with all the risks involved in the decisions and another with the benefits of taking that path. After the analysis, you can see clearer which option is too risky and which one is the most beneficial for you.
Let’s assume that we completed our risk/benefit analysis, and we still unsure about what to decide. When this happens, I’d like to either go with what my intuition tells me or delay the decision a short period of time to have more time to think and collect information.
We tend to underestimate our intuition, but I found out that when it comes to personal matters it’s very helpful to rely on it as feelings are more involved on those kinds of decisions.
That sums up my decision process, I hope you’ll extract something useful from this and if you feel like there’s something I could implement in my process feel free to contact me, and we can discuss it.
Thanks for reading.