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If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

If You Follow These 2 Rules to Make Decisions, You’re More Likely to Succeed in Life

It’s estimated that we make about 35,000 decisions every day.[1]

These decisions include: what to wear, what to eat, and what to say. In the latter case, you’re likely to have to decide thousands of times a day on what you are going to say to others. This could range from ordering your morning latte at your local café – to putting your point across persuasively in a team meeting.

Decisions… Decisions… Decisions…

They are constantly needed for us to actively partake in life. However, were you taught how to make decisions at school? Probably not. It’s likely that you were also not taught that effective decision making is an essential component of success.

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To help you out, I’m going to give you a brief tour of what skillful decision making looks like, and how you can learn to do it.

You Don’t Need to Be a Know-It-All to Make Right Decisions…

There are two little-known methods of making great decisions. These two methods have been tried and tested over the years by the vast majority of the world’s most successful people.

Can you guess what these methods are? (Please compare your answers to what you’ll read below.)

Winners in Life Make Decisions Quickly

  • Indecision leads to mental fatigue. By making quick decisions, we can maintain our mental vitality, which gives us the best chance of making the correct decisions going forward. As an example… You need to decide on how to reply to a customer complaint letter but keep putting it off. This ongoing issue is likely to negatively impact any other duties or decisions that you need to make at that time. Instead, decide how to reply to the customer – and then write the letter.
  • Quick decisions put you ahead of your competitors. Imagine for a moment that you run your own company that sells computer software. Your industry is super-competitive, and you constantly need to offer new deals and new products to stay in the game. You hear about an exciting new piece of software that is trending across social media. However, you’re not sure whether the software will be a good fit for your business. You could choose to ‘wait and see’ how the software sells for other companies, or you could decide to take the plunge and become a reseller immediately. Luckily, you picked the latter, as the software proves to be one of the most popular releases for years. You won big, because you acted quickly.
  • Perfect decisions are a myth. I know what you’re thinking… Surely, if I spend time weighing up the pros and cons of a decision, I can come to the perfect conclusion? Unfortunately not. In fact, it’s a common misconception that a perfect decision is just waiting to be found. Think of it this way, if you seek the perfect decision, you are probably going to end up making no decision – and thus taking zero action. Successful people look for the best decisions, but they also understand that perfect decisions are few and far between. For example, if you’re looking for a new job, firstly decide what area of work you would like to do. Then narrow this down to specific roles. You may end up with just one role, but usually it’s better to keep your options open by having several alternatives.

Winners in Life Stick to the Decisions They Make

  • It takes time to see whether a decision was wrong or right. Let’s say that you want to move home to a city that you’ve always enjoyed visiting. You sell your current apartment, and then immediately purchase a property situated in the heart of the new city. After your initial enthusiasm has worn off, you begin to see the negatives: the city is noisy, it’s polluted, and you don’t know anyone. At this point, you could conclude that you made a bad decision. However, if you were to give the new apartment and city more time, you may change your mind. For example, you may discover quiet, green parks for relaxing in nature. You may also start to make friends with people you meet when you’re out and about. Eventually, you may come to love your new home.
  • It’s easier to make further decisions based on your initial decision. Career decisions are at the top of most peoples ‘difficult choices’ list. You may have one idea, but your partner or family may have other ideas for you. The secret is to reach a decision promptly – and then stick to it. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, once you have made a decision, you can get on with the required steps to achieve your career goals. Secondly, when you come across any challenges to reaching your goals, you’ll be able to take the necessary decisions within the context of your initial decision. This will help you to make the right choices – and with the least amount of mental effort.

5 Surefire Ways to Help You Stick to the 2 Rules When Making Decisions

While it may take some time to break your current habits, becoming a great decision maker is easier than you may believe.

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Implement the below methods, and watch both your decision making and success begin to reach new heights.

Set your decision criteria

The most important thing when it comes to decision making is knowing exactly what you want to achieve. If you’re not absolutely clear on your objectives, then it will be tough to come to any decisions.

Imagine that you were considering taking up a new hobby but had no idea where to begin. If you leave this to chance, you’ll probably end up doing nothing. A better approach is to analyze what you are already good at and enjoy. For instance, if you love listening to music, then learning an instrument might be a great hobby for you.

Stop endless information gathering

In today’s ‘information age’, we’re led to believe that researching all the facts and figures before making a decision is a necessity. This is okay, until you find yourself becoming addicted to unearthing more and more information about something. When this happens, you become a full-time researcher, and a no-time actioner!

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Break free from this ‘analysis paralysis’ by knowing when you’ve gathered enough information to make a good decision. You can see this demonstrated in detailed reports that always include an Executive Summary. For busy CEOs, the Executive Summary gives just enough information for them to understand an issue – and to make a decision on it.

Assess the risk/reward ratio

Every time you make a decision, there is a risk that something could go wrong – but also a reward if something goes right. Let’s say that you need to decide on a whether to accept a promotion at work. The new position offers more money, but also comes with more responsibility.

To make a decision on this offer, you would need to assess whether the extra money was worth the added responsibility. To give you another example, professional investors live by their chosen risk/reward ratio. Before each investment, they decide what the potential gains are, compared to how much they could lose. Only once they are happy with this ratio do they decide to invest their money.

Decide on a backup plan

However good your decision making, there will times when things go wrong (sometimes badly!). For this reason, it’s vital to always have in place a backup plan when making major decisions. Professional athletes are an excellent example of this. At any time, their career could be prematurely ended through injury. Because of this looming threat, most professional athletes have a backup plan ready to be actioned. This could be a university degree that will allow them to quickly move into a new career, or if they want to stay within athletics, then they may have taken the necessary training to become coaches or psychotherapists (for example).

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Create decision making habits

First-rate decision makers didn’t become that way overnight. Instead, they honed their decision making over months and years. You must do the same. Start by getting into the habit of making decisions promptly, and then sticking to them. If you struggle at first, then begin with small decisions, and then move onto the bigger decisions when you have more confidence to tackle them.

Outstanding achievers have learned how to be great decision makers. Fortunately for you, the secrets to their success have now been revealed to you.

Take this knowledge – and begin immediately applying it in your life. Decide to be successful. And then let all your future decisions lead the way to the top of Achievement Mountain.

Reference

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Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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