We all have to make a lot of decisions, both small and big, every day. This is why we’ve created this list of ways you can learn to make better decisions at work.
1- Create a routine
Creating a routine eliminates the need for constant decision-making. If you decide to always wear the black suit on Thursdays, always eat a tuna salad for lunch on Mondays, and always check your email inbox at 11 am every day, you keep your mental energy up for other important decisions.
An example of successful people creating routines to make better decisions is Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who always wears a grey T-shirt. The reason: as he put it, “I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
If the type of work you do cannot accommodate a set routine (you work from a different office every day, you have a lot of external meetings, etc.), you can plan your day the night before, so that you don’t run out of mental energy too early the next day.If the work you do cannot accommodate a set routine, plan your day the night before. #MakeBetterDecisionsClick To Tweet
To start right away: Choose one decision you have to make frequently. Pick your work clothes for example. Decide on a rotational wardrobe system where every day of the week you wear something specific. For instance, assign Sundays the blue suit, commit to your system, and make your morning routine easier.
2- Automate whatever you can
We live in a great era of technology, and we have to take advantage of it. So whatever you can automate, go ahead and do it. Connect your apps and inboxes. Automate your workflows. Forego relying on memory for anything you do regularly and create reminders. Do whatever you need to save the energy spent on making these small decisions for bigger things.
3- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
Even after you eliminate small, unimportant decisions, you’re still going to find decisions that are more significant than others on your plate. What you have to do then is prioritize. Knowing where to focus will help you come out of the decision-making grind faster and with better results.
To start right away: Follow the 80-20 rule to correctly approach the list of decisions you have to make, and you should see an immediate and noticeable improvement.
4- Plan your day
Which sounds better to you: setting a management meeting first thing in the morning or at the end of the workday when all you can think about is going home after the long, hectic day you’ve had?
Planning your day in a way that allows you to make the most important decisions at suitable times is the ideal approach to decision-making at work, so don’t schedule important meetings at the end of the day. Also, don’t schedule meetings back to back and don’t make too many consecutive decisions. We assure you the quality of the later ones will not be worth the taxing time you forced yourself to spend.For better decision-making, don’t schedule important meetings at the end of the day. #MakeBetterDecisionClick To Tweet
However, the truth is this is not always possible and you don’t always have full control over your schedule, so you should combine this solution with one or more of the other solutions on this list for maximum effect.
To start right away: Pull out tomorrow’s schedule and start shuffling things around. Start by moving that important meeting to be first thing in the morning and take it from there.
5- Take breaks
Breaks are important. Detaching yourself from the problem at hand to do anything else will give you a clearer perspective when you come back to it. So get up from behind your desk and take a walk, get something to eat (see next point), or have a small chat with one of your colleagues. We promise you’ll be making better decisions after this in no time.
To start right away: Set an alarm so that you can remember to take a nice break in between tasks or during an especially long one.
6- Eat first, think later
One proven way to increase mental energy and hence make better decisions is to eat or have a snack before making a decision.
It might seem counterintuitive to stop working to get something to eat, but when you’re hungry and your blood glucose levels are low, the chances of making a bad or impulsive decision become higher.
So here’s the rule of thumb: Just as you shouldn’t go grocery shopping while hungry, you shouldn’t make any decisions while hungry. But be careful not to add to your burden and decide on a food rotational system too.
To start right away: Use one of the breaks you scheduled for good, healthy food and put it on your calendar now.
7- Limit your options
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to options, the more is not the merrier. In fact, the more the options you have, the less likely you are to make a decision. That might not sound right to you, but research has proven that people with fewer options are more likely to go through with a purchase or a choice and to be more satisfied with it.
There’s a lesson there for all of us. For example, instead of choosing from 50 different candidates to interview, why not limit the pool to just the top 10? If they don’t work out, move on to the next 10. Again, the 80-20 rule comes into play in a big way here.
You can also try to limit the situations that require decision-making to begin with, so, for example, if someone already on your team can handle the load, why put yourself through a long, daunting hiring process? Similarly, don’t go into a store to just browse unless you want to buy something specific. Make sure you have a specific, clear, and necessary goal in mind and then decide on what decisions you need to make to achieve that goal.
To start right away: Aim for no more than three options per situation.
8- Help others control decision fatigue
Just as you’re more likely to make better decisions if you have fewer options, your customers are as well. A person building a website knows that visitors are more likely to click through if they see fewer options in navigation menus. Someone in sales knows that trying to sell a huge number of products/services at the same time is almost always met with resounding hesitation.
When you give others a small number of options and therefore help them make better decisions, it’s a win-win situation: You have fewer options to use and they’re more likely to go through with one of the options you choose for them.
Aim for no more than three options at a time. #MakeBetterDecisionsClick To Tweet
To start right away: Aim for no more than three options for your customers as well.
9- Make smart decisions about what decisions to make
Just because you’ve made a decision doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. If you make a decision that will require you to make more decisions in the future, then you’re only delaying the inevitable. As much as you can, make the decision that wraps up the matter instead of one that clears the way for more back-and-forth.Done is better than perfect. #MakeBetterDecisionsClick To Tweet
For example, never end a discussion about an important matter with the decision to decide about it later. If you have all the info you need to make a decision right now, do it. For less important decisions, go with the simpler option. Embrace the “Done is better than perfect” motto to end procrastination once and for all.
To start right away: Take a look at your to-do list, see what your next decision is, and start eliminating all options where the above doesn’t apply.
10- Assign specific times
If absolutely necessary and unavoidable, then set a specific time for less important decisions and try hard to commit to the deadlines you set for yourself. This way, you still get the small stuff out of the way but leave enough room for more important decisions.
Assign specific times for important decisions as well. Without an end/deadline in sight, you risk wasting too much time on each decision you have to make.
11- Go for minimalism
Living a simple, minimalistic life will greatly help you make better decisions. So don’t own too much stuff, schedule fewer meetings, and only include important tasks on your to-do list. Only focus on what matters. This way you can eliminate trivial decisions altogether.
To start right away: Start with your desk. Take a look at everything on it, only keep things related to what you’re doing right now, and get rid of all the rest immediately.
In the end, all you need to remember is this: Your decision-making energy is not without end, so make sure you’re spending it on decisions that matter.
Which of the above solutions appeals to you most? Tell us in the comments below.
If you like this article, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to the blog to get more of this content regularly.