Sunday, October 14, 2012
by JULI SHULEM
I am rather disorganized but my biggest problem seems to be in making decisions. I get completely overwhelmed and stuck. I cannot decide what to do first, if I should attend an event, whether I should purchase an item. Do you have any good advice to help me make choices more easily? – Decision-challenged
Decision-making challenges often leave people stuck. From not knowing where to put something away, to not knowing what to make for dinner – there are hundreds of decisions we need to make daily. Some just overwhelm us and we start to go in reverse.
If you have many “irons in the fire,” it is often difficult to decide which needs to be handled first. Procrastination is a “go-to” coping mechanism that many fall back on because it delays the decision.
First rule of decision-making:
More time usually does not create better decisions. In fact, it can decrease the quality of the decision.
Moreover, if you spend all your time worrying about a decision, you may miss the opportunity that it offers altogether! Consider how important the decision is and how much attention it really deserves.
Here are some ways to go about making a decision. This is generalized, but it should help with most situations:
- Informed Decision: Gathering the right data in order to make your decision is often the very first step. If the decision warrants it – learn what you need to know first. Maybe you are choosing between several options. Limit your decision to just a select few, and decide from there. If you try to learn about every single option out there, you will never have time to make the decision OR make use of the item you were trying to select in the first place. While more information may help, if you keep dragging out the process without a deadline, you just create anxiety, not results.
- Pros & Cons List: Listing the benefits and also the disadvantages of a particular choice can often point us in the direction to head when it’s a close call.
- Consider Projected Outcomes: This one dovetails with the pros and cons list. Often, listing the outcomes for each choice can help us choose the best course of action.
- Create a Deadline: You can quite literally take forever to decide on something only to have the opportunity disappear, or get so overwhelmed you just don’t commit. Circumvent this by giving yourself a deadline for coming to a decision. Put it in your calendar and plan out the steps you need to take to come to some conclusion. Deciding now frees up your most valuable asset: time.
- Use a mind map: These allow you to put all the aspects regarding the upcoming decision into a visual image so your mind stops going around in circles. Often the decision will almost make itself once it’s out of your head and materialized into an image on the page. Don’t know what a mind map is? Google it.
Starting today, attempt to make every decision as soon as you have a reasonable amount of information. Decision-making is a skill that becomes easier with time and practice.
What would you like to know? If you have a question you wish answered, email Juli Shulem at [email protected] with “Question for column” in the subject line and it will be answered it as soon as possible. Your name will not be used. No question too small or insignificant.