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Why Asking for Advice Doesn’t Help You Make Better Decisions (and What to Do Instead)

Why Asking for Advice Doesn’t Help You Make Better Decisions (and What to Do Instead)

I used to consider myself a great advice giver and I thought that that is what makes me a great friend, sister, daughter, and partner. People used to say that I am a great listener and that I always helped them to make the best decision. The same goes other way around. Whenever I was facing a problem, or a dilemma of any sort, I would ask my closest ones for advice. In the end, they are the ones who know me best and want what is best for me, right? As I am getting older, and a bit wiser, I am beginning to realize that I was wrong the whole time. Let me tell you why.

Seeking Advice May Make You Feel Reassured But It Brings About These 5 Problems

It has been a common practice for people to ask for second opinion of a friend or a loved one when facing a big decision in their lives. It makes us feel less alone when facing harsh circumstances, or more assured in the rightness of our decision when our closest ones share the same opinion. Yet, if we take a closer look at the process of advice seeking we would soon realize that asking for advice doesn’t in fact help us make better decisions.

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  • We often tend to ask for validation rather than an advice. When you, for example, say “My job is giving me a lot of stress, I should quit it, right?” you are not exactly asking for advice, but you are just seeking for someone to validate your opinion and a decision you have already made.
  • The people you usually turn to for advice are not always the most competent or knowledgeable ones about a problem at hand. Most of the times, you will turn to your closest ones for advice, yet asking your best friend who is a professional hairdresser to give you advice on job in accounting, would be ineffective in most cases.
  • If you decide to ask a close friend or a family member to give you some advice regarding the situation they have had faced earlier, doesn’t always result in the most appropriate solution. This is because we are rarely objective. Therefore, asking a parent to help you decide on a major at university, could lead to them deciding on a subject that they consider best for you rather than you choosing a subject you are most passionate about.
  • We usually seek advice from a couple of our closest ones, and then make a decision. Yet, in most cases a small group of people usually isn’t enough of a sample to help us reach the most optimal choice. For example, if you are planning a vacation and you ask a couple of your friends about a place they have visited, you might not be able to get the most objective picture of a place. A larger group of people on a tourist forum is much more reliable source of information.
  • Sometimes when we are not really sure about the decision we are about to make, we tend to let other people’s opinions guide us in one direction, just so we wouldn’t feel the responsibility if things turned out to be wrong. Most of the time, we do this unconsciously, yet it is a mechanism that helps us be free from responsibility, but it also leads to a great number of bad decisions.

When Seeking Advice Is Not an Option, You Can Do These 4 Things to Make Better Decisions

Question your beliefs

Our beliefs are what leads us to trust the person giving us advice, since most often we share the same beliefs. Even if we don’t, the advice that resonates with our beliefs the most is the advice we would most likely take. In order to not fall into the trap of belief bias, make sure to question our beliefs about a specific topic, and then analyze the facts.

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Ask for information but not advice

Consider the idea by Ryan Holiday, an author who suggests to look for information, rather than advice.[1] He explains the method as analyzing your problem or dilemma, and deciding on the most influential points which you can find more about by asking for information by people who are knowledgeable about it.

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Look at the whole picture before forming your opinions

In order to avoid another the confirmation bias that leads us to only consider the proof for our ideas and beliefs, while completely ignoring the opposite, we should take enough time to analyze the facts that contradict our initial opinion. By doing this we are being mindful of the possible negative results, and as a result, our point can even become stronger.

Check the numbers to have a more objective judgement of the situation

When making decision we tend to get blindsided by somebody’s success story regarding the issue we are dealing with. Of course you are going to expect the same outcome for yourself, yet you need to get a bigger picture and actually check the statistics before deciding on a whim.

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Reference

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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