4 ways to make decisions faster (and better)
Our capacity for decision-making is a finite one. These four strategies will ensure you're always well-placed to make decisions faster when you need to.
Are you someone who tends to wear the same clothing to work most days? Do you find that you stick to the same meals, cafes or take away throughout the working week? Well, you may be onto something …
According to a study by Columbia University, the average person makes at least 70 decisions per day. Some can be minor, such as food and clothing choices while other decisions can be more difficult, such as major business or life changing decisions that will affect more than just you.
This may explain why you see many of the world’s most successful people turning their smaller decisions into routines.
Take the late Steve Jobs for example. How many times did you see him in anything but a black turtleneck? Even President Barack Obama has been 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’.
"Making big calls in the morning can set you up for a productive day ahead"
Whether you run your own business it helps to get into the habit of being smarter and more decisive when it comes to decision making. While certain decisions will always require more of your time and attention, it’s still important to come up with a solution in a timely matter to ensure that your business and your staff can continue to push forward.
Here are four techniques that work for me to help me make decisions faster.
1. Program yourself to auto pilot
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to turn your smaller decisions into routines. After all, if you’re someone with a million things on your to-do list, plus staff asking you questions that need to be actioned, then spending 15 minutes pondering Deliveroo menus is probably not a productive use of your time.
Another reason I like to set up everyday tasks as routines is to help avoid peaking too early and struggling with mental exhaustion for the rest of the day.
If you are ready to get your smaller decisions on autopilot here is a sample morning routine:
Have an alarm set for the same time every morning. Wake up, go to the gym, come home, shower, dress, eat the same breakfast that you ate yesterday and then jump in the car to get to work.
Already eight tasks have been achieved in the space of 90 minutes. This is what I do every morning and I don’t have to think about any of these things, I just do them because it’s what I do every day. So before my work day has even started my free time has been maximised and my energy levels are up thanks to the early morning workout.
2. Make the most important decisions first thing in the morning
As above, when you work a muscle (in this case your brain), ultimately your muscle is going to fatigue. This is why it is important to make your big decisions in the morning when you’re fresh and energised.
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.
Start each morning with 15 minutes to think about what needs to be done that day. Prioritise your list and then get started.
3. Make your decisions in a timely manner
While most people can make small decisions on the fly, a bigger decision may require more deliberation. You may want to run it by a mentor or you may want to sleep on it, but at the end of the day, taking too long to decide on something may cause distrust within your team, it may also hold up production and therefore will stop you from moving forward.
Setting a deadline when big decisions need to be made helps me make decisions faster. Then I do my homework and ensure that I am ready to proceed once I reach that date.
4. Take care of you
This is one thing a lot of new business owners struggle with.
Sure starting a new business is hard and you need to do the hard yards and put in the hours, but beware of your health because if your health fails, how are you going to be able to to the work?
A 2015 report by APS on stress and wellbeing reported that anxiety symptoms are at the highest they’ve been in the past five years with 35% of Australians reportedly having significant levels of distress in their lives and 26% reporting moderate to extreme levels of depression.
When you’re stressed your cortisol levels rise which triggers a fight or flight response.
While a little bit of cortisol is fine, 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.
Furthermore, cortisol also clouds your ability to think clearly so if you’re stressed about making a decision, I suggest going out to do a quick workout as that will help to neutralise the negative side effects and get you thinking clearly again.
What’s your go-to method for making decisions faster (and better)?