Do you ever feel like there are so many choices that you just can’t make up your mind? It can be enough to drive you crazy! Having choices is great but it can be frustrating, time-consuming, and even debilitating sometimes. But even with a seemingly endless amount of options we can learn how to make faster decisions and stop being indecisive. I want to share with you some insights I’ve learned about training your brain to make faster decisions.
Multiple-choice tests used to drive me crazy as a student. Those clever test writers were so talented at making us second-guess ourselves. Their job was to intentionally write the choices in a way to either trick us into picking the wrong one if we were in a hurry or confuse us so much we would get stuck wasting precious minutes on a timed test trying to decide.
Fortunately, life isn’t designed like a multiple-choice test. Yes, we have lots of options to choose from, but usually there is more than one right answer. If you find yourself facing two or more good choices, you’re already doing something right!
Speaking of facing multiple good choices, I was at Ben and Jerry’s for Free Cone Day this past Tuesday. I found myself at the front of the line having a mini freak out that the flavor I wanted wasn’t on the free list and I had to pick a new one in a matter of seconds because of the line behind me. I chose chocolate chip cookie dough. Happily enjoying the chewy bites, I realized that it really didn’t matter which flavor I picked because they are all delicious lol. Plus I got an upside surprise that you can get unlimited seconds and thirds if you get back in line, so I ended up being able to try three free flavors, all of which were incredibly chewy and delicious.
What Causes Indecision?
Did you know there are actually medical causes of indecisiveness in adults such as depression, panic attack, ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic renal failure? Don’t freak out! We all experience indecision and usually it’s just because of these more common causes:
- Lack of confidence
- Asking for too much input
- Desire for certainty
- Lack of sleep
10 Tips On Making Faster Decisions
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” – William James
I think one of the greatest feelings is the euphoria that comes from getting things done. Even little things like loading the dishwasher and having a clean sink again, or responding to all the emails in my inbox feels wonderful. So how do get more things done? We have to make decisions!
Studies have shown we make thousands of decisions each day. No wonder our brains get burnt out. Fortunately, most of them are minor or automatic like deciding to brush our teeth, picking out which clothes to wear, choosing where to sit at the table, selecting a parking spot, etc. If you can find ways to reduce the number of decisions you have to make each day that’d be ideal. In the meantime, improving your ability on how to make faster decisions is quite valuable.
1) Clarify first – It sounds obvious, but make sure you fully understand what you’re making a decision about. This can be really important when you’re making decisions at work when you may not have the full picture of the problem at hand, but the outcome could affect multiple groups of people. If things aren’t clear, ask for clarification now so you don’t have regrets or delays later.
2) Quickly evaluate the impacts – If the decision you’re trying to make isn’t going to have a major impact on your life, stop stressing about it! Sometimes simply recognizing the immateriality of a decision makes it a lot easier for you to choose an action to take. Avoid getting caught up on the little things that don’t really matter that much.
3) Use the 80/20 rule – If you try and get 100% of the information you need before making every decision in your life, you’re going to fall way behind and wear yourself out! If you want to train yourself how to make faster decisions, forget about trying to know everything in advance. Focus on about 80% of the information you need instead. The remaining 20% usually isn’t that important anyway. Plus, our brains are actually pretty savvy at filling in the blanks and figuring things out without perfection! Fro emxpale, yuor bairn cna raed tihs eevn tohugh it si seplled worng. Haahha azanmig!
4) Make use of existing knowledge and resources – Ask yourself if you’ve faced a similar decision before and what you learned in the past. Utilize your experience and any easily available resources to gather information that can help you make faster decisions.
5) Set a deadline – Try limiting yourself to 1 minute for small decisions. Having self-imposed deadlines can help you avoid becoming wishy-washy and teetering back and forth on insignificant decisions. For harder decisions, you can set limits like 1 hour or perhaps overnight to give yourself a chance to sleep on things. A good night’s sleep helps me think of new perspectives on complex decisions I missed the day before.
6) Narrow down the possibilities – It’s so much easier choosing between two options versus five. The process of elimination method we learned in school still applies as adults.
7) Be selective with pros and cons – Did you know even Benjamin Franklin used pros and cons lists to make decisions? Lists are great for complex decisions that can have a significant impact on your life. Writing things down clears your head and helps you make smarter, faster decisions. Just don’t waste time writing out pros and cons for small things like what to buy your mom for Mother’s Day or what color to paint your walls. Use your time wisely on the bigger decisions that really matter like whether to accept a job offer, move to a new city, or go back to school.
8) Cut steps out – Does an idea really have to be written up in a formal presentation, put to a vote, and run through a research study before being you can decide to act on it or not? Why make things so complicated and slow? Speed up group decisions by opening up to some risk and reducing the number of steps it takes to get things done.
9) Pick randomly – If you’re feeling stuck trying to decide on things like which item to tackle next on your to-do list, try picking at random if they have the same priority. Closing your eyes and pointing to something on your list only takes 3 seconds and helps you get more things done each day. My current motto is one thing done is one thing less to do!
10) Gut check – There’s always the sage advice of going with your gut. When something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t. I think we’ve all learned the hard way that ignoring our gut instincts rarely ends well. I’ve been burned too many times by that before!
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