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How Not to Screw Up Your Decision Making

How Not to Screw Up Your Decision Making

You have a problem, but you’re indecisive. You can’t even buy a pair of jeans without agonizing—should you get the skinny, regular, or boot cut? Should you get faded or colored? Maybe you want the ones with the holes, or maybe not? Should you do low rider or high waist?

You’re driving yourself crazy, not to mention everyone else around you. Decision-making shouldn’t have to be that difficult, so if you’re ready to say goodbye to the “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” mentality you’ve allowed yourself to resort to, here are some concrete dos and don’ts you’ll want to pay attention to in order to make a solid decision.

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decision making

    DO

    Relax. If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to overlook something important. When you’re relaxed, you can think clearly, weigh your options and make a better choice. Make sure you’re on your “A” game when you make a call, and learn to relax by using deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques and exercise.

    DON’T

    Be impulsive—making a quick decision is never the way to go. Weigh your options, and think things through, since impulsiveness leaves too much room for mistakes. If you have a general tendency toward being impulsive, take note of it and be intentional about slowing down and stilling your mind. Remember, you can’t change what you don’t notice.

    DO

    Consider all the options. This is the old pros and cons approach: if you want to take the old-fashioned approach, get a pen and paper and list all the pros and cons, or, if you like a more high tech approach, get the Great Decisions app on iTunes for six bucks: it will help you analyze your options.

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    DON’T

    Make a decision under pressure. Pressures can come in subtle forms, so watch out for suggestions like this from well-meaning people:

    • I need a decision by the end of the week
    • Time’s running out
    • If you don’t do this, someone else will 

    DO

    Seek wise counsel: this means consulting those whose opinions you value, or those who have faced similar circumstances. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and be willing to listen.

    DON’T

    Over-analyze. This is the part where you agonize needlessly over your decision. Once you make the call, have confidence in the fact that you did your research, thought things through and trusted your instincts. Then chill out.

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    DO

    Trust that even if you blow it, you’ll learn from your mistakes—growth happens when we’re challenged, not when we coast through life. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen if I make a wrong decision?”

    DON’T

    Think you know it all, as that can lead to disaster. Adopt a humble attitude and a teachable spirit. Learning from others can provide you with valuable information to augment your decision making process.

    DO

    Have an alternative plan. Remember that things don’t always go smoothly in life, and even our best attempts to make wise decisions can backfire through extenuating circumstances that are no fault of our own. Plan for obstacles, and learn to be flexible.

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    At the end of the day, there’s no guarantee that all your decisions will be home runs. However, if you’ve taken time and followed the steps outlined above, you can rest assured that you’ve done all you can to leave your “ennie, mennie, miney moe” strategy behind you.

    The more you practice making small decisions, the better you’ll become when it’s time to make the tough ones. Personal growth and development will be a rewarding part of the process—now go get those jeans!

    Back at You: What do you find is the most difficult thing about making a decision?

    Featured photo credit: Path by the beach via Shutterstock

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    Rita Schulte LPC

    Licensed Professional Counselor

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    Last Updated on September 17, 2018

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

    Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

    All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

    Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

    How bad really is multitasking?

    It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

    Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

    This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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    We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

    So what to do about it?

    Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

    Now, forget about how to multitask!

    Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

    1. Get enough rest

    When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

    This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

    When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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    2. Plan your day

    When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

    When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

    Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

    3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

    I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

    I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

    Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

    4. When at your desk, do work

    We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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    Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

    5. Learn to say no

    Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

    Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

    By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

    6. Turn off notifications on your computer

    For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

    Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

    7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

    Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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    You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

    The bottom line

    Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

    Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

    Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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