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13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful

13 Ways To Make Decision Making Less Stressful
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“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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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