Do you ever have trouble making an on-the-spot decision? Maybe it’s something small, like your friends want to know where you should all go to dinner but you just can’t seem to think of the perfect place.
Or maybe it’s something more serious. Maybe you’re trying to decide if you should keep this stock option, and your indecision becomes a decision of it’s own. Maybe you’re trying to make a choice about where you should send your kid to college.
Choices like those can cost you peace, rest — not to mention your savings.
No mater how you swing it, an inability to make fast, smart decisions is a drain on your resources and a drag in your life.
But have you ever thought about this: simplifying your life in all areas will actually help you make better decisions? Not only can simplifying improve your decision time, it can also improve the quality of your decisions.
Here’s How it Works
In the past decade or so, researchers have begun to notice something they’re calling decision fatigue, which simply means the more decisions we have to make in a day, the less likely we are to do a good job of making them.
And in a world where we have literally thousands of decisions flying at us at any given moment, chances are most of us are suffering from this ailment.
In other words, while it might seem like a nice idea that for your next design project you can choose any designer in the world (thanks to technology), when it comes to actually making that decision, it makes your life much more complicated.
The number of choices we’re forced to make in a day would make anyone exhausted. No wonder we feel so indecisive.
Here’s the Solution
Well, there are several approaches to this. But the general understanding seems to be that the more we can eliminate small or unnecessary decisions, the more we can automate everyday kind of decisions, and the more quickly we can whittle down our options to a reasonable number — the better off we’ll be when it comes to choose.
And did you know that the root of the word “decide” actually means “to cut off”? It’s true. Choosing means simplifying. Simplifying helps us choose.
So if you’re a person who has a difficult time deciding, here are a few thoughts.
Consider first coming up with a filter to help you make the big choices. By “filter” I mean a statement you say to yourself when trying to make a decision about where to spend your money or your time.
The statement should clarify what your life goals are, or what your purpose is in this season. Something like “My priority is to protect my family and grow my business.”
That way, if an opportunity comes up, you can ask yourself: does this help me protect my family or grow my business? If not, you’ll know for sure the answer is no.
Second, think about eliminating some of the smaller choices.
Can you eat the same thing for breakfast every morning? Can you create a daily routine so you don’t have to make those decisions over and over again? Can you take the same route to work everyday so you can turn that decision on autopilot?
The more decisions you can automate, the better off you’ll be.
Third, avoid getting caught in the fear of missing out. This is an easy trap to fall into, but if you look at everyone around you and want to do all the “cool” things they’re doing, you’ll likely miss the simplicity and beauty of your own life.
Don’t make your decisions more difficult than they need to be. Keep things simple. Don’t be afraid to say “no” more than you say “yes”, The simpler your life is, the easier your decisions will be.
No Sidebar: At Work
When it comes to making choices, are you a satisfier or a maximizer? These terms, coined by Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, might not mean exactly what you think. But understanding them will save you time and help you make better, more efficient decisions.
One of the biggest problems most of us have when making choices is just plain over-analyzing. Don’t get stuck in this trap.
And finally, sometimes the cure for decision-fatigue can be hiding in plain sight. Something about it being so obvious means we miss it. But here are six ways you can beat decision fatigue in the workplace (or anywhere, really.)
No Sidebar: At Home
Whether at work or at home, becoming more decisive is all about understanding priorities. And when we understand where our priorities lie, making decisions becomes easy. Check out this article for a simple process to help you prioritize.
If you think decision fatigue only has a small impact in this world, think again.
We must recognize the more profound impact our inability to simplify is having on the world at large. The more responsibility we have (mothers, teachers, law-enforcement, etc), the more important our decisions become.
And what if one of the best ways to simplify your life was, well… so simple? Have you ever considered eliminating one of the most inane, and also most frequent, decisions from your life?
No Sidebar: In the Soul
When it comes to making tough choices, one of our most valuable resources lies within. Out intuition is a powerful indicator of the right choice. Let us all learn how to use it and how to listen.
Something else for you to consider: what if you stopped making decisions and instead made commitments? Imagine how this would simplify your life and make it easier, and less stressful, to make the right decisions.
Furthermore, keeping a daily routine isn’t just good for mind, body and soul. It’s also good for decision-making. If you haven’t already, consider making regular, daily, healthy habits a part of your everyday life.
Photo credit: Royalty-free minimalist photos from Minimography.