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How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

With every choice comes a decision, and from the moment you wake up to when your head hits the pillow each night, you are faced with endless choices.

When life is stressful, plates are overflowing, and your brain, living space and work space are cluttered, making a decision (even a simple one) can seem overwhelming. So what do you do? You make the decision not to make a decision.

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Things you say to avoid making a decision.

  • “I’ll look at it again tomorrow.” Putting off your decision is a choice you make that will impact your happiness on a daily basis. When you don’t take action, you direct your attention to the what ifs instead of moving forward. “What ifs” are a waste of time and you don’t have time to waste.
  • “Let’s wait and see.” Usually, ‘wait and see’ means ‘no thank you’ or ‘never gonna happen,’ but because you want to make everyone happy, you avoid the conversation. Be kind to yourself and others by being honest about your decision in a timely matter.
  • “You decide.” When you say this, you decide to give your decision away. This almost always is a result of people pleasing or option paralysis. Even with small decisions like where to meet for lunch or what color to paint the kitchen, giving your decision away can make you feel less connected and engaged.

If you’ve ever said any of those things, it’s time to clear the clutter for better decision-making. When you simplify your life and eliminate the things that aren’t actively adding value, you make time and space to make better decisions more quickly. If you’ve ever sat with a decision for very long, you know how painful indecision can be.

Three ways living clutter-free will make you a better decision maker

1. Know what you want. When your thoughts are ping-ponging from thing to thing and you are preoccupied with stuff that doesn’t really matter, you don’t have the mental clarity to identify what you want most. That goes for what you want most for lunch, for the moment and in your life. By removing the clutter, you give the most important things a chance to rise to the surface.

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Instead of organizing your stuff, shuffling papers, or cleaning your desk as a means of clearing your head before you make a decision, keep less. Life is distracting enough without adding drawers of stuff, piles of paper, and boxes stored in your closet.

2. Trust your gut. A pro/con list never hurts, but when you get too analytical, you can find reasons to support any decision. Analyze, but not to the point that you dismiss what your gut and heart know to be the best choice. Learning to trust your gut comes with practice and attention.

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Losing the clutter frees up time for you to give your gut the attention it deserves. If you don’t take the time to listen to what you know to be true, even before you know why, you are cheating yourself.

3. Embrace uncertainty. When you have less to lose, uncertainty is easier to grasp. Mitigate risk by trimming the fat (clutter) in your life and business so you can make decisions and know that things will be ok even if they don’t go as planned.

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There is more than physical clutter that gets in the way of making decisions. Things like anxiety (fear), hesitation (fear), worrying about what people will think (fear), and fear of making a bad a decision (fear) get in the way too, but once the clutter is gone, you will have the mental clarity to see your indecision for what it is.

Clear the clutter and admit that not making a decision is one of the worst decisions you can make. Those two actions will make you more confident in your decision-making and happier with the choices you make.

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Courtney Carver

Courtney Carver is a speaker, author, productivity expert and founder of Be More with Less.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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