Indecision Halts Progress … Always!

August 23, 2007

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One of my clients is a busy Silicon Valley executive who faces literally hundreds of decision a day. Some of his decisions are as simple as where to file an email; others include major policy shifts that impact his entire organization. But it’s the sheer volume of decisions that he finds overwhelming. He once confessed that, some days he finds himself so emotionally drained that he refuses to make another decision.

This is completely understandable, as making decisions is challenging and mentally taxing, but the alternative means brining progress to a screeching halt!

So what are some strategies to aid in the decisions making process? Bellow I’ve listed three strategies based on the kind of decision needing to be made: Process related, Product selection, and Big picture/life altering decisions.

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For “process” related decisions, I recommend narrowing your choices to the least number of predefined categories possible, and then sorting into those categories. For instance, for processing through your inbox, I recommend sorting items as, to-do, to-keep, or trash. At their most basic level, every item fits into one of those categories. You might have to create further division latter, but by starting more general, you’ll have fewer things to think about when deciding what to do with each item.

For product selection, the amazon.com approach is great. For instance, when trying to decide which item is best, read the reviews. Evaluate items by the total number of reviews - the more the better. Then look for items with the most stars (they have a 5 star rating system). Next, look for people that hated the item (just one or two stars) because they may highlight a flaw other’s have missed. Finally, look for other items in the same category.

If it’s a “big picture” potentially life-altering decision like buying a house, or choosing a graduate school, then I recommend using the good old fashioned Pro/Con list approach. See this article for good advice on how to create a weighted pro/con list.

Remember, indecision always halts progress, and can be a huge source of stress … so decide to decide and keep things moving along!

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