How To Make Decisions Faster

On any given day the average person makes about 70 decisions. The majority of these are not life-altering choices, but rather mundane minutiae of everyday living. Most people quickly decide and then move on, but for some, the decision-making process doesn’t come easy.

I should know.

My habit of overthinking the simplest of choices has caused me needless stress and a good amount of awkwardness. (I once spent an hour in a dressing room waffling between two sizes of the same swimsuit!) Why I struggle with the process is a mystery (although I have a sneaking suspicion it has something to do with perfectionism and/or self doubt).

What I do know is that the inability to quickly make a simple decision is more than a study in frustration. Vacillation over every little thing can lead to what psychologists call “decision fatigue” or the deterioration of the ability to make a good decision when it really matters.

Luckily, decision-making is a skill that can be honed in a few easy steps.

How To Make Decisions Faster

1. Pick one insignificant topic/issue in which you struggle. Tuna or teriyaki for lunch? Heels vs. flats for the date? Make it a simple situation that occurs frequently.

2. Quickly weigh your options and pick one. Don’t analyze every possible scenario. Limit yourself to a minute or two; use a timer if necessary.

3. Commit to your choice and forget about it. Distract yourself immediately to avoid second-guessing the situation (wait, I want the chicken not the fish!!!); return an email, start a conversation or recite your favorite poem, anything to occupy your mind.

4. Afterward, don’t grade yourself — no matter the outcome. Every decision is there for a reason; chalk it up to experience, learn from it and move on.

We have more choices today than ever before. Make it a habit to act swiftly on the small stuff. You’ll build confidence in your decision-making capacity and have more energy for life’s more significant matters.

For weightier matters, try this bonus tip. If truly stuck, ask an acquaintance their opinion. When you verbalize your dilemma, the answer often becomes apparent. Many times I’ve heard myself say, oh thanks, but I think X is the better choice for me. —Karen

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