Being more decisive will help you reclaim the time you spend going back and forth (and back again), as there are only 24 hours in a day, you’d want to make the most of them.
But for most people, it’s more natural to waffle. That’s because especially at work you want to be extremely certain you’ve really thought through your approach and are making the very best choice.
4 Ways to Get Better at Making Snap Decisions
Now, what if you could make great decisions and still do it faster? Sounds fantastic, right?
Luckily, this is a skill you can improve at. Here are four strategies to make decision making effective and efficient:
Practice in Your Comfort Zone
You’re already straining yourself by making and sticking to a decision, so don’t pressure yourself more by working on this skill when you have a million other things on your plate.
If you’re sidetracked by a totally unrelated urgent deadline, then that’s not the time to challenge yourself about making choices without second-guessing.
Rather, search for times you don’t need to multitask and use that time to think through some decisions, like what course you want to take a forthcoming project, or which of two directions makes the most sense to you.
I know, this might sound a little unlikely at first, but you set time aside to work on hard skills and make time to think creatively, so why not take some time to focus on making decisions?
Most times pushing outside of your comfort zone is vital, and there are circumstances when you’ll have to make choices irrespective of whatever else is happening. But part of doing it well when the rubber hits the road is first giving yourself time to get accustomed to how you think.
Make Small Decisions—Fast
Several decision coaches over the years have pointed out that people who go back and forth on huge decisions, normally struggle with the little ones too. This is to say, if you can’t decide if or not to go for a promotion, you’d likely also keep changing your mind about talking in a meeting, and even if or not to make a cup of tea before you take a sit.
The trick is to start with insignificant choices. Because if you hate the new burger you ordered, you don’t have to get it again, and by that, you’ve made progress towards making all decisions faster.
Build Yourself Up
Let’s come back to the burger example. In that minute you challenged yourself to take a snappy decision, you decided to try a new burger, and it ended up tasting bland. In the end, either you ate it or picked up something else while leaving the office really doesn’t matter.
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What counts is the decision you made moments afterward. There are two options you’re faced with, the first option is to chastise yourself: I’m an idiot for ordering a burger from the place down the street when I’ve always disliked them. That’s $5.00 down the drain. Although that’s a totally natural reaction, it’s going to stop you next time, because somewhere in your head you’ll be thinking, Don’t be an idiot.
The other option is to tell yourself: Ok, do the burger suck. But I’m pretty pleased with myself for making a choice at that moment and trying something new. That change from criticizing yourself for a terrible outcome, to praising yourself for making a decision will inspire you to make a choice again the next time.
If you’re scared that positive reinforcement will lead to multiple bad choices? Keep in mind: You may have made the same decision whether you spent one minute or 10 minutes making it, so it’s OK to commend yourself for making a quick choice.
Give Yourself Feedback
You don’t want to let it stop at commending yourself, mostly if your choices aren’t helping you achieve your goals or you end up going down the wrong path on something paramount.
The most effective thing to do next is to troubleshoot your process after to see what you can do better next time. I must add that this is totally different than second-guessing your choices or dwelling on them until you feel bad.
Maybe during troubleshooting your process of making decisions, you’d realize that, whenever you’re on the spot you pick whichever option that’s immediately in front of your face. Or, maybe anytime you’re unsure, you allow others speak first and agree with whatever is said. Or, maybe you just autopilot to whatever you’re most familiar with.
Ensure to dig into what your likelihoods are and why they make you fall short. That way, if there’s a next time, you can spot your bad habit before it happens.
As with any other objective you work on, part of getting better is setting more realistic expectations. This means there may be some disappointment, or things you think could’ve been a bit better. And that’s truthfully OK. As ironic as this may sound, just making the decision to work on been decisive is a great first step.