It drives me crazy when people take forever to make a decision. But even I get caught doing it.
When I was setting up my facebook page for Mother F'ing Preneur I had to choose a category to put it under. You know, organization, business, place of interest etc.
All of a sudden I couldn’t decide which one to choose. Is it a "company" or "consulting and services"? There wasn’t a clear "right" answer.
I sat there for a while. Hmm, I think I’ll go check my email (procrastinating). Anything new on my Instagram feed? (distraction).
I was wasting time because I wasn't sure what the RIGHT answer was.
I was spending WAY too much time on a very minor decision. I was annoying MYSELF. T-t-t-t-tttoday, Junior!
We all make hundreds of decisions everyday. They are of varying degrees of importance, most of them minor.
We have to become efficient at making decisions so we can spend our time and energy moving our business forward rather than stagnant in indecision.
There are two reasons it is difficult to make decisions:
- Fear of making the wrong decision
- Too many options
Below is my two step strategy to make good decisions fast followed by instructions of how to implement it. Do this and you will squash your fears and ease the decision making process.
Make Good Decisions, Fast!
1. Ask: What’s The Worst Thing? (WTWT)
2. Purposefully LIMIT your time and options
#1. Ask: What is the worst thing (WTWT)?
When making a decision ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that will happen if I make the wrong decision/choice?”
This helps to illuminate the scope of the impact of the decision and how much time you should spend making it.
My hubby, Jon, and I heard this somewhere and it has become our mantra. It has saved us countless hours and numerous arguments.
When you can’t decide where to go to dinner, what's the worst thing that will happen? You have a bad meal. Not the end of the world. However, the best thing is that you have an amazing meal and go home happy, and well fed.
Major decisions are allowed more time and energy than small ones. Usually safety, health and large financial decisions require more thought.
Buying a house? Quitting your job to start your company? Hiring your first manager? Those are larger decisions that a take more time. But when you start asking WTWT you realize that the worst thing often isn't so bad. And many times if you don't like the outcome, you can change it.
Hate the house you bought? You can move. Hire the wrong person? Find someone else. Yes, it can take time and money to correct these things but they aren't permanent. You start to realize that very little in this world is set in stone.
So in regard to my Facebook example I couldn’t really even come up with a “worst thing.” This made me realize how menial this decision was.
Stop wasting time on small decisions!
There is no gain in spending more time thinking about the perfect answer, because there is NO perfect answer!
Pick something and move on. As I like to say, "Shit or get off the pot!"
This sounds intuitive but you’d be surprised how many times in your life you waste time deciding small insignificant things.
Where should we go for dinner (especially in a group - painful!).
What should I wear today? (No one really cares! Why do you think Steve Jobs wore all black turtle necks?!)
What should I write in this email? (Whatever comes to mind, just write something!)
The important thing isn’t WHAT decision you make, it is that you MAKE ONE!
Once you make a decision you get to move on.
So go forth making quick decisions all over the place. Ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” and you'll come to realize 95% of the decisions are small and fairly insignificant.
Suddenly you will have more time to think about the decisions that really are important and have a big impact on your life.
#2 Limit Your Options
Limiting your options makes the decision making process quicker and easier.
I owned a cafe/coffee roaster for 8 years. One year we were doing a renovation and I had decided to paint the walls an off white.
Great. Decision done.
Oh, but wait. There are thousands of shades of "off white."
Our contractor was asking me what exact color I wanted. So I asked her to bring me three options.
I had a million other decisions to make about this project and couldn’t get bogged down between "rustic white" and "marshmallow creme". I wanted her to pick the top three that would look good and present them to me. Limiting my choices made it an easy decision.
From there I could look at them and make the decision in about 3 minutes. Done.
We are rarely presented with an either/or decision. There are typically hundreds of options. Maybe we should do a little more research before we decide.
No! Wrong answer.
When you have too many choices you always feel like you're going to make the wrong decision.
The curse of the internet is there are always more options. You could always find a better deal/designer/product.
How do you know what the BEST option is when you’re not sure you know all the possibilities?
- Accept that you will NEVER know all the options
- Limit the amount of TIME you research options with a goal of finding THREE good options.
- Commit to choosing the best options among what you find
- Don't look back. Do the best you can with what you have and MOVE ON!
Jon (my husband) is an amazing researcher. He can find a ridiculous amount of information in a fairly short amount of time. But because he is such a good researcher, he always knows there are more options out there. We’ve had to employ the time limit method numerous times.
People often are paralyzed by indecision, even when there is no wrong answer. Don't let it happen to you.
Follow these steps every day and you will save time and have less headaches!
- Ask yourself What’s The Worst Thing that could happen?
- Limit Your Options
What will you do with all your time saved?
I'd love to hear from you! Let me know how it works for you.