Decision making isn’t easy. Especially when you have multiple options to choose from.
With all choices being equal, you may find yourself stuck in a case of paralysis by analysis. A situation where every option looks like the right one, but if you choose incorrectly you’ll make a fatal error.
It is imperative in these situations, however, that you make a decision and move forward.
I personally struggle with this all the time.
Making those hard choices is never easy to do, but I’ve found that it does get easier with practice.
And while it may seem that each decision is incredibly valuable – that with a wrong choice, a wrong move, you may plunge into turmoil at any second – that’s really never the case.
Decision Making: 4 Productive Ways To Make Smart Decisions
Think of a hard choice you may make in the future. It could be deciding on a career, living situation, or financial risk.
We spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to make these tough decisions.
There are normally multiple ways you can play it and each option seems like equally the right way to go.
And then to add another layer to it, by making a decision you are also determining who you are, what your priorities are, and what you want to achieve.
Well, it really doesn’t need to be that complicated.
While there are multiple factors to consider when making decisions, the actual decision making process is fairly straightforward.
Take a look below and discover the 4 productive ways to be effective at decision making.
1. Limit your options
To start off our list of decision making steps, here is one of the most important – limit your options.
The book Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz mentions that the more options we have, the harder it is to make a decision.
Limit your choices so as to avoid paralysis and be better satisfied with the choice you make.
Because one of the worst things you can do is get bogged down by too many options.
So start off by reducing the choices that you have.
There are normally a few that standout right away as not the right fit so you can easily remove those. Then, continue taking options off the table as you determine what criteria is most important to you.
By the way, reducing options is beneficial in other areas of your life as well.
2. Reduce decision fatigue
Another great tactic among decision making examples is to reduce decision fatigue.
Our brains have limits.
The more decisions we make over the course of the day, the more tired our brains become.
See it like going for a run.
If you run once a day, totally fine. You have time to recover and you’re ready to go the next day.
If you start running twice a day, still probably fine but you’re going to be a little more tired today and you may need some extra rest.
Start running 12 times a day? You’re going to be exhausted and probably crawling on that last run.
Decision making is very similar.
If your day is comprised of too many big decisions, your ability to make effective ones at the end of the day will surely be reduced.
So there’s two things you should do:
- Give yourself time to “recover” between big decisions – don’t make too many within a certain period
- Reduce the amount of decisions that you need to make each day
As far as reducing decisions go, you can try delegating decisions out to others so that you don’t need to be involved or try planning out decisions the night before.
Speaking of planning, actually planning out your day ahead of time is incredibly beneficial. We have a whole article dedicated to planning, right here.
3. Keep the big picture in mind
One of the most important decision making skills that you can have is to keep the big picture in mind.
When struggling to make a tough decision, think of your goals. Those things off in the distance that you actively work towards.
Look at it this way: Will one of those options help you move closer to your goals over another?
Put them in the context of the decision you are trying to make.
For example, will choosing Option A help me get closer to my goals? Will Option B? Which one is more likely to help push me in the right direction?
When making decisions through that lens you will be able to keep the big picture in mind and better make a decision.
Because sometimes with decision making we can get so lost in the minutia, the minor details, or the smallest factors that we forget to think of the real reason we need to make a decision at all.
So next time you are faced with a tough choice, use your big picture goals as a means to put your decision into perspective.
4. Ask – is it sustainable?
Whether it involves decision making in business, at home, or in your personal life, you need to consider whether or not a decision is sustainable.
What does that mean?
It means to consider whether or not the decision you make will still be a smart option in the long term.
For example, lets say you want to build a house.
You can either build it out of paper and tape or use brick.
Paper and tape will take a day to make whereas brick will take 3 months.
You may be in a rush, but before you make your final decision you need to first ask yourself which of these options is better for you in the long term.
The house made of paper may be good for a day or two, but if it rains or get windy you’ll be out of luck.
On the other hand, the brick will take longer to build, but should last for decades to come.
Therefore, by considering which option is better sustainable, you have a framework that will help you with decision making.
Decision making is challenging but there are ways to get better at it.
No one likes making those tough decisions, but all of us will have to make them at one point or another.
Whether considering the big picture or whether it’s sustainable, you can be an effective decision maker by following the strategies above.
Give it a try and start making better decisions.