Life is all about decisions. Small decisions, big decisions. We all have to make countless decisions every day. Most of these decisions are the kind we make often, so we don't find them so difficult. Here and there we'll get stuck on the trickier ones or the real big ones. But what happens when building a house or entering a renovation project? Every day presents us with more decisions that need to be made and most of them are brand new decisions we've never dealt with before. The number of decisions combined with their novelty can be a bit too much to handle and that's when the stress begins.
The trick is to simplify the decisions.
Here are some tactics:
- Limit the number of Choices. Instead of a wide, infinite playing field, get down to no more than 3 options to choose from.
- Limit your time. “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.“ (Parkinson's law). The longer you take to make the decision, the longer you will be agonizing over it. I found that the decisions I took a long time to finalize did not end up with better results than those I made quickly, on the contrary. Our first instincts are usually pretty good.
- Limit opinions to 3 people maximum. Three relevant people is more than enough to help you filter opinions to figure out what you want. Don't forget to choose people whom you trust to see what you want and will not try to push you into what's good for them.
- Automatic responses. Set yourself defaults you could fall back on. For example:
-Always choose the "greener" product if quality and price are similar.
-When choosing a color for a generic product (i.e. products in which the color is not such an issue) always go for blues (or whatever your favorite color is).
-When debating between suppliers always give preference to someone from my town (assuming price and quality are similar).
These are just examples I made up for illustration. Try to think where rules could work for you. I know this is hard because every case is different and we think, the more we analyze the details of the case the better the decision will be. But in reality, the more we analyze the case the "heavier" the decisions become, leaving us with very little energy to make the important decisions.
- Let someone else decide. Not every decision is life changing. Many decisions have similar outcomes. Will we eat macaroni or pizza for lunch? Should we watch this comedy or that? Why not let someone else decide for a change? Have the waiter surprise you (just don't forget to mention you hate anything with nuts…). Considering you have no idea what's good in this restaurant your chances of success through a process of thoughtful decision making are no greater than by flipping a coin. Don't waste your time and energy on decisions someone else could make for you.
- Hire someone to think for you. As opposed to the previous tip, this one is for the important decisions that demand knowledge, experience and thought. In this case find someone who is an expert and can make a much better decision than you can and at the same time make life easier for yourself. The biggest gain is that your time and energy are now available to be spent on the decisions only you could make for yourself.
We have a double gain here, better decisions all the way around: first, on those issues you don't really have the expertise to make a good decision, chances are you would've messed this one up. Second, the decisions that need you, and only you could make for yourself, are now getting your undivided attention.
I was having a hard time deciding how to list the tactics above. Should I start from the ones easier to implement and continue through to the harder ones or vice versa, or perhaps I should list them randomly? I decided to let someone else decide for me (tactic #5)…What do you think? Should I have presented them differently?
Creating spaces people want to live in!