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13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful

13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” — Tony Robbins

Do you struggle to make decisions?

You may feel so concerned about making the wrong choice that you don’t make any choice at all. I firmly believe that but by doing this, you actually do make a decision: you decide not to choose any path or destination!  No decision is a decision.

The typical way of coming to a decision involves attempting to compare the future consequences of each of the possible actions. But really how do you know the future, how can you realistically make a decision based on “possible” outcomes?

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The first challenge lies in attempting to predict the future; it’s tough to have any real accuracy. The second challenge is that the more important and serious we believe the issue to be, the more likely we are to become paralyzed. Yet, these big issues are the ones that really require a decision and a direction.  Ultimately, making decisions this way can be difficult. Indecision can feel paralyzing.

Can there be a Better Way?

Try this on for size, see how it feels differently from the last method. Instead of looking at a long-term point in the future, try considering just the impact on your life and your well-being now – right here, right now, in the present moment.

Two simple questions to ask yourself:

  1. If I selected this option, how would it impact my life right now?
  2. What changes would I experience immediately?

An example:

Suppose you had a job that you didn’t really care for, but the money was good and you didn’t have to work very hard to get it. But you really wanted to be a teacher.  The thought of teaching middle school English always appealed to you, and you’d love having the summers available to do something other than work your usual job.

Let’s think about this a little:

If I selected this option, what impact would it have on my life right now? What changes would I experience immediately?

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  • Stay at old job: I would feel trapped. I would feel very little hope that in the future I could have an enjoyable career.
  • Become a teacher: I would feel hopeful about the future and excited at the prospect of spending my days in a more enjoyable way.

Now it is so much easier to see what option will feel better, will enhance your life and lead you to greater personal satisfaction.

Present Moment Impact

When you look only at the impact your decision making have in the present moment, you get to the heart of the matter very quickly. The very fact that you’re stuck to begin with and can’t make up your mind means that you’re having a difficult time choosing one over the other. So if there’s no obvious winner, choose the option that’s the most fulfilling to you.

By taking the future out of the equation and simply making a decision, you can move forward and spend your energy taking action to make your decision work out the very best it can. This is a much more effective and enjoyable way to live.

Additional Strategies to make decisions less stressful

  1. Let go a little. You don’t have to be the best or be perfect all of the time.
  2. Look at the big picture.  So many times we get caught up in all the small details that we really loose sight of the big picture.
  3. Take a break. Take a yoga class, go on a run or meditate. Let your mind relax and allow your subconsciousness do the work for you.
  4. Intuition. Simply go with your gut. Sometimes your first instinct is the one that will lead you in the right direction.
  5. Non-Permanent. Remember that many of our decisions are not permanent, they are just phases in our lives and things will change.
  6. Choose to live from your heart. Allowing your heart to guide you will ensure that you know you are moving forward for your greater good.

Additional Action Steps to make decisions more manageable

Checklists to free your Mind

Creating checklists for routine and everyday tasks can free your mind and lower your stress levels.  I use checklists often, it allows me to breathe easy, I’m never stressing that I am forgetting something.  Once your checklist is ready you don’t need to spend time deciding to do A or B, you will know that you will do B after you have completed A.

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Block your Time

Set aside a specific block of time for making your decision. Pick a location where you will not be disturbed.  Set a timer.  Give yourself enough time, but be careful about using too much as you will turn the session into an unproductive procrastination session.

Limit your choices

Quickly rule out choices not suitable. Pick 2-3 choices that interesting and part of your life plan or vision.  This allows to you eliminate unnecessary information overload and will help you analyze choices quicker.

Right-size, right decision

Putting the right amount of effort into your decision making will help you make faster decisions and with less stress.  Making the decision about “what’s for dinner?” and making the decision about “where to go to college?” both deserve the appropriate amount of time and effort.  Understand that smaller decisions don’t need to be made into large ones because you are feeling “stuck”.

Create a Support System

Put together a group of friends and family that can assist with the big decisions.  You could also opt to join a Mastermind group, a group of peers that can offer you an objective view and a new prospective on your decisions.

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Delegate the Small Stuff

Whether it is around the house or at the office, there are some things that you can definitely pass on to other people.  Think about the things that can easily be shifted to other family members or assistants.  Allow these people to learn the art of decision making for themselves, help prepare them for bigger decisions.

Put some or all of these strategies into practice for fighting stress while making decisions, and you will see real changes in every area of your life.   You will see the levels of stress decrease, you will see that decisions become easier to make each time.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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