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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.

More by this author

Courtney Carver

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

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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