Last updated on April 2, 2017
I wrote a ~2,000 word article to help you make decisions but it was too much to consume and really take action on. So I made a decision (see what I did there?) to simplify it into one simple post to help you improve your decision making skills.
The Power of Simplification
This time of year a lot of people are making tough decisions about starting a new job or finding a new apartment and signing a lease, etc.
What’s been the toughest decision you’ve made lately?
Recently, for me it’s been buying furniture. I have spent the last two months pinning on Pinterest, visiting Design within Reach, Ikea, Ashley Furniture, talking to my design-y friends (thanks Lisa & Crystal!), sitting on chairs / couches, etc.. I looked at everything…
Yet at the same time, it is very easy for me to make other decisions. For example, I went to buy new dishes the other day. I saw a green and blue set I liked and decided to buy it right then.
What made one decision easier than the other?
Even though I’m 31, I have never bought furniture before. WTF? But I have bought dishes a number of times and I knew exactly what to look for.
Life is all about decisions. Small decisions, big decisions. And we have to make countless decisions every day. Just like positive triggers, I’ve realized it is easier to move forward if I can turn big decisions into smaller ones.
Here are some of tactics I use to simplify decisions.
Limit the # of Choices. Instead of a wide, infinite playing field, in your decision get down to no more than 3 things that you are trying to accomplish.
Limit your time (aka Parkinson’s law). Love this. “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.“ So limit your time in decisions and you’ll be doing less work (or tiring your brain).
Limit opinions to 3 people maximum. I’ve consistently found you’ll get both sides on your decision and feel the best after you’ve finally decided. Three relevant people is more than enough to help you filter opinions to figure out what you want.
Reminder: Most of the time when we want an opinion we are looking for confirmation of what we will do regardless. Constantly seeking opinions can be a clear indicator we may not really want something. (click to tweet)
Napkin technique. If you are designing a website, draw it with a big marker on a napkin. You can only do so much on a napkin so you’ll prioritize what you really want.
Remove the Difficulty:
Automatic responses. My favorite default color is pastel green. Defaulting to this makes almost all choices with color SO much easier.
Flip a coin. Give your decision over to chance. This is a duh one. But once you let the coin decide you’ll internally realize which decision you actually wanted.
Let someone else decide. Many times at restaurants I tell the waiter to choose for me. It’s more fun and I don’t have to think. Yay.
Hire someone to think for you. This is why you go to a plumber or why I use Adam of MyBodyTutor who helps guide me in my workouts.
Don’t Give a Fuck:
Say yes to everything. You can’t regret when you’ve accepted all decisions will be positive. Give it a shot and see what you learn about your relationship with decision making.
Walk the plank technique. Make it so you can’t go back. Like if you don’t make the decision you have to donate to your worst charity or do something you’d really NOT want to do.
With the furniture I ended up choosing this setup:
Funny enough I debated getting a recliner for a few months. It dragged ON and ON. I wasn’t sure.
That alone was the decision. I wasn’t ready for the recliner. I chose nothing. I would rather find the right chair to read, eat, sleep, watch movies in, etc…than get something I’m not excited to be buying.
The techniques I used to decide was walk the plank and Parkinson’s law.
I decided I had to make the purchase by a certain period of time and then bought Macy’s gift cards so I was forced to use them at that location. The last thing that was extremely helpful was being able to visualize what the end goal looked like. While at Macy’s I noticed a layout that I liked and was able to sit in. That made getting a similar layout so much easier than never having a clue.