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5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision Making

5 Tips for Lightning-Fast Decision Making

Our lives are defined by our ability to make decisions. Our careers, relationships, health—anything and everything about our present selves boils down to the decisions we’ve made in the past, yet some of us struggle with decision making. We may have access to data, plenty of options, and generally have everything going for us, but when crunch time rolls around we seize up. We just can’t make that firm commitment to a decision. Here are a few of the labels you may go by:

* Over-thinker
* Procrastinator
* Slow to act
* Analysis paralysis
* Perfectionist

Have you ever felt like you identified with any of these labels? If so then know that you aren’t alone. We are at the extreme of the decision making process, spending too much time thinking about our decisions, and not enough time acting upon them.

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Fixing our Decision Making

For people like us, we need to balance out our decision making processes with a bit of “rashness.” We need techniques that will help us dive in to our decisions head first and to stop worrying about the repercussions so much.  Here are 5 tips to help us balance out our decision making process.

1. The 2 minute rule

The idea behind this tip is to force action through a self-imposed deadline. It’s simple enough to incorporate: any time you have to make a decision, just set the timer and begin the process. The time limit forces you to quickly assess the pros and cons while quickly coming to a decision. The simplicity behind this tip makes it very accessible.

If you’re simply slow at making decisions, then this tip is a life saver. It doesn’t have to be 2 minutes either; anything from 1-5 minutes should work fine as well.

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2. Think black and white 

There are times when we have more choices then we need. Excess of anything can overwhelm and lead to analysis paralysis, so in this case, try judging your options simply as good or bad, which will simplify and quicken the process of weeding out the less optimal decisions.

This limited approach is ideal for the over-analyzers who insist on questioning every variable to death.

3. Put it in a hat

If all options seem to have roughly equal value, write down your best ones on separate pieces of paper and place them in a hat/bag. Your decision will be the one you pull out at random.

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This also works if you have a bunch of tasks you don’t want to do; these you could pair with a reward hat. Do a task, then when its done pull out your random reward from the other hat. This will help make the process be more tolerable.

4. Focus on the present

We can often become overwhelmed with the big picture, trying to see how our decisions will affect the future. The process is mentally draining, because you’re trying to see every step along with its every outcome. It’s better to save that energy for the task at hand, and simply try and make the best decision possible. Live in the moment, make a decision based on what will make the next step the easiest instead. Doing this for every step is a great choice for the chronic non-decision maker.

5. Embrace the idea of failure

Probably the biggest fear for us slow decision makers is that our decisions will lead to bad results. Compensation is then made by over-thinking the situation, causing us to question every aspect involved in the decision. Ultimately we run the risk of making no decision at all because we waste time and energy on useless questioning—this line of thinking must be rewired.

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Instead, we should see delaying the decision as worse then making a bad decision. Bad decisions can be recovered from and learned from, but not making a decision at all means we don’t get to determine how our lives unfold. A fear of failure means that some thing or someone will make that decision for you.

Closing thoughts

It’s rarely the case that the best decision to make is to not make one at all. Those who struggle to make decisions run the risk of letting their lives run them, rather than them running their own lives. This puts independence under constant threat, so it’s up to us to make sure that we are in control of our lives and our decisions.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you feel like you want to back away from a decision, because you don’t want your life to be decided for you.

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Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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