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4 Simple Methods for Quicker Decision-Making for Procrastinators and the Indecisive

4 Simple Methods for Quicker Decision-Making for Procrastinators and the Indecisive
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Life is full of choice, and whilst it is understandable that we fret over life’s major pathways—Should I go to university? Should I change career sector this late on? When should we start a family?—we are also now fretting over the smaller things in life. Why? Well, simply because we have so many options available to us. The humble weekly grocery shop has turned into an epic adventure, with dozens of brands on offer for every item. On average, we make thousands of decisions a day.

When options are overwhelming though, you can’t help but feel pressured into making the right choice. No wonder then that deciding what to wear today, whether to have another biscuit, or what to cook for the family occasion is bringing us out in a cold sweat! If this relates to you, then it is time to regain control and start making snappier decisions.

So, what are the benefits of making quicker decisions more simply? Firstly, you will stop wasting time on the choices that aren’t so important or critical, and secondly, the more you practice making quick decisions, the better you’ll become (and hopefully therefore more comfortable when making the large decisions).

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Stop sweating it when it comes to making small decisions. Here are four simple tricks you could employ to help blinker the options and make life that little bit simpler.

1. Stick to what you know

I am normally one for branching out and am a big believer that we need to push our comfort zones and try new experiences. However, there is a time and place for that, especially if you’re having a mental burn out making small decisions that are unimportant but have tens of options.

For example, when it comes to options that revolve around non-important choices, such as what coffee to drink or what brand of makeup to buy, then it’s OK to stick with what you know. For the everyday choices, I find that I tend to stick to what I know and am familiar with—I listen to the same radio station each morning, stick to the same brand of hair colorant, buy the same brand of washing detergent, etc.

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2. Choose from a short list of three

Looking at my friends and family and close acquaintances, I would say that most people are indecisive. I think. Or perhaps they aren’t. Oh, I am not so sure now.

When we struggle to make decisions such as what to have for dinner or what to wear to that party at the weekend, how do we possibly make decisions such as what to call our kids or whether we should relocate for work?

When it comes to the smaller decisions and the ones that don’t really matter, quickly narrow your options down to three, then choose one from those short listed. This also works well if you and your partner or friend are being as indecisive as each other over trivial matters, such as where to eat out or what film to watch. It also can be done jointly, so one of you chooses the short list of three and then the other chooses the final option. Quick and simple.

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3. Limit decision-making time

Most indecisive folk will know that they are indecisive, so before you even think about making a decision, set a time limit on it. For example, you have to choose what to buy your mum for her 60th birthday. While this is an important decision (although get it wrong and you’ll feel the smugness of your siblings because their present was better), it isn’t a huge, irreversible decision (just make sure you keep the receipt). Set yourself a time limit, say an hour, to decide what to get her and don’t go over it.

This tactic can also work on larger, more critical decisions too, such as where to get married or what stocks to invest in, in order to help you stop procrastinating and help you to narrow down your options. Set yourself a time limit that is reasonable, say 24 hours or even a week.

4. Go with what you know will be best for you

If you are really struggling to make a decision, let alone the right one, then perhaps it is best not to just narrow down your options, but instead think about which option will be the best outcome for you.

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For example, let’s take the classic situation of being unsure what to eat at a restaurant. Ever been that indecisive friend who is holding up the ordering process because every time it comes round to your turn, you politely tell the waiter to “Come back to me at the end, I am still deciding”? Then you proceed to ask everyone else what they are eating in the hope that you can poach an idea. Well, if this is you, then maybe your best tactic is going for what is best for you, i.e., not the double cheeseburger with extra cheese and bacon with an extra side of fries, but instead the grilled chicken salad.

And this tactic can even be stretched to making more involved decisions, such as which car to buy. Yes, the gas guzzling, bright red, convertible, two-seater sports car may be in the running of options, but when you have a family is it going to be the best option? Think, “Which option is the best outcome for me?” Rather than just, “What do I want?”

Go on, flex that decision-making muscle!

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Featured photo credit: openclips via pixabay.com

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Alice Dartnell

Engagement Expert

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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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