According to a study by Columbia University, the average person is tied down with at least 70 decisions each day. Some can be minor, such as clothing or food choices while other decisions can be more difficult, not to mention life changing for yourself, your business and/or your staff.
But like when you are working a muscle, after you do a number of reps your muscle is going to tire. The same goes for your brain, which is why it’s important to stay focused and learn to make quicker decisions, especially if those decisions are smaller ones.
Obviously if you have a bigger decision to make you may want to take some more time with it, but you should still come to a conclusion within a timely manner otherwise that decision can weigh on you and pull you away from doing more important things.
Whether you work for yourself, freelance or manage a team, being able to make quick, focused decisions is imperative to your success. Why?
Because if you were to spend 10 minutes on every small decision that you needed to make each day nothing would ever get done and this may result in the failure of your business/project/team.
Here are my top tips to quicker decision making:
President Obama was famously quoted saying ‘You’ll see I only wear grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions and I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or what I’m wearing’ and you know what? He is onto something!
Turning your smaller everyday tasks into routines, especially in the morning, helps you avoid peaking too soon and struggling with mental exhaustion for the rest of the day.
To give you an idea of what I mean, here is an average morning for me.
My alarm is set for the same time every morning. I wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower, dress, eat the same breakfast as yesterday and then jump in the car to get to my first meeting.
See, I have achieved 8 tasks in the space of 90 minutes with minimal stress, not to mention the fact that exercise helps to energise me and put me in the right frame of mind for a productive day ahead.
Programming yourself to autopilot when it comes to simple decisions is not a bad thing. It takes unnecessary stress out of your day and allows you to focus on the bigger decisions that really matter.
Well this is an obvious one given my muscle analogy mentioned earlier.
It makes sense to do your more difficult tasks and make your bigger decisions in the morning when you are fresh. Leaving a life changing decision to the end of the day when you are tired and mentally exhausted can lead to errors being made and even more time being spent correcting them.
Furthermore, making big calls in the morning can set you up for a productive day ahead whereas starting small and then dwelling on the bigger things may leave you feeling stressed, indecisive and more exhausted.
While many of us should be able to make smaller decisions on the fly, a bigger decision may require more deliberation as you may want to run it by a mentor or sleep on it. Even still, don’t wait too long to make the decision as it may cause some distrust within your team and it will stop you from moving forward.
The key with big decisions is to set a deadline. Once you have a date in mind in which your decision needs to be made, do your homework and strive to have a decision made by then.
Anxiety symptoms are at the highest that they have been in the past 5 years according to the APS 2015 report on stress and wellbeing. 35% of Australians reportedly have significant levels of distress in their lives and 26% reporting moderate to extreme levels of depression.
When you are stressed your cortisol levels rise producing a chemical that triggers a fight or flight response. Cortisol clouds your ability to think clearly, so if you are stressed about making a decision I suggest doing a quick workout as that will help to neutralise the negative side affects and get you thinking clearly again.
Being in a constant state of stress will only burn you out, so make sure you factor in some time to work on your wellbeing. Make sure you are exercising, drinking a lot of water, minimising caffeine and ensuring that you have some low impact activities booked in such as yoga, meditation or even just a slow stretch to help wind yourself down after a busy day of work.