Some people are naturals when it comes to making decisions. Give them about 5% of the relevant information and they will make a decision and move on.
Unfortunately for most of us it’s not that easy! For me, my natural style is to make a decision pretty quickly in my head, but then I’ll spend all sorts of time gathering information to support and rationalize that decision.
A great realization I came to a few years ago is that most decisions that are significant are highly emotional. Whether it’s deciding to make a big purchase or change the strategy of your business, emotions play a big part in most decisions.
Over the past few years I have made a conscious effort to adjust the way I make decisions, primarily to make them faster. Here are a couple of things I have done to make this happen:
1. Set a deadline for making the decision: some decisions I can make immediately, others I’ll need time to analyze and consider more deeply. I found that if I set a deadline, this forces me to schedule time to consider and make the decision vs. constantly procrastinating on it.
2. Keep the significance of a particular decision in perspective: most decisions are not potentially life changing or fatal by themselves. I take comfort in the fact that it’s a combination of decisions that lead to big changes.
3. Learn not to think about the same thing twice: this was a big one for me. I often felt like I was having the same debate with myself over and over again. Constantly running around in circles in mind and getting stuck in the same place with no decision being made!
4. Practice accepting my initial opinion as the final one: after analyzing several recent decisions, I came to realize that I usually would decide something very quickly in my head and then delay a final decision so I could gather more information to support my initial reaction. In every case, I still went with my initial reaction, so I figured why not just save myself the time and stress and just go with my initial reaction on most things and move on!
5. Learn to make a decision based only on the most important criteria: I love to gather information and analyze it, but it’s important to weight that information based on its relevance. I sometimes fall into that trap that all information is created equally!
6. Learn to separate facts and my opinions when making decisions: this is that emotional thing again. Keeping a clear focus on the facts vs. my opinions helps to move things along.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still not one of those natural decision makers. It still requires effort on my part to do some of these things. But I’m getting better at it all the time!
If you’re looking to make faster decisions, start by picking one of the six things listed above to try and see how it goes. Would you hurry up and pick one already so you can get started!