Life is full of choice, and whilst it is understandable that we fret over life’s major pathways—Should I go to university? Should I change career sector this late on? When should we start a family?—we are also now fretting over the smaller things in life. Why? Well, simply because we have so many options available to us. The humble weekly grocery shop has turned into an epic adventure, with dozens of brands on offer for every item. On average, we make thousands of decisions a day.
When options are overwhelming though, you can’t help but feel pressured into making the right choice. No wonder then that deciding what to wear today, whether to have another biscuit, or what to cook for the family occasion is bringing us out in a cold sweat! If this relates to you, then it is time to regain control and start making snappier decisions.
So, what are the benefits of making quicker decisions more simply? Firstly, you will stop wasting time on the choices that aren’t so important or critical, and secondly, the more you practice making quick decisions, the better you’ll become (and hopefully therefore more comfortable when making the large decisions).
Stop sweating it when it comes to making small decisions. Here are four simple tricks you could employ to help blinker the options and make life that little bit simpler.
1. Stick to what you know
I am normally one for branching out and am a big believer that we need to push our comfort zones and try new experiences. However, there is a time and place for that, especially if you’re having a mental burn out making small decisions that are unimportant but have tens of options.
For example, when it comes to options that revolve around non-important choices, such as what coffee to drink or what brand of makeup to buy, then it’s OK to stick with what you know. For the everyday choices, I find that I tend to stick to what I know and am familiar with—I listen to the same radio station each morning, stick to the same brand of hair colorant, buy the same brand of washing detergent, etc.
2. Choose from a short list of three
Looking at my friends and family and close acquaintances, I would say that most people are indecisive. I think. Or perhaps they aren’t. Oh, I am not so sure now.
When we struggle to make decisions such as what to have for dinner or what to wear to that party at the weekend, how do we possibly make decisions such as what to call our kids or whether we should relocate for work?
When it comes to the smaller decisions and the ones that don’t really matter, quickly narrow your options down to three, then choose one from those short listed. This also works well if you and your partner or friend are being as indecisive as each other over trivial matters, such as where to eat out or what film to watch. It also can be done jointly, so one of you chooses the short list of three and then the other chooses the final option. Quick and simple.
3. Limit decision-making time
Most indecisive folk will know that they are indecisive, so before you even think about making a decision, set a time limit on it. For example, you have to choose what to buy your mum for her 60th birthday. While this is an important decision (although get it wrong and you’ll feel the smugness of your siblings because their present was better), it isn’t a huge, irreversible decision (just make sure you keep the receipt). Set yourself a time limit, say an hour, to decide what to get her and don’t go over it.
This tactic can also work on larger, more critical decisions too, such as where to get married or what stocks to invest in, in order to help you stop procrastinating and help you to narrow down your options. Set yourself a time limit that is reasonable, say 24 hours or even a week.
4. Go with what you know will be best for you
If you are really struggling to make a decision, let alone the right one, then perhaps it is best not to just narrow down your options, but instead think about which option will be the best outcome for you.
For example, let’s take the classic situation of being unsure what to eat at a restaurant. Ever been that indecisive friend who is holding up the ordering process because every time it comes round to your turn, you politely tell the waiter to “Come back to me at the end, I am still deciding”? Then you proceed to ask everyone else what they are eating in the hope that you can poach an idea. Well, if this is you, then maybe your best tactic is going for what is best for you, i.e., not the double cheeseburger with extra cheese and bacon with an extra side of fries, but instead the grilled chicken salad.
And this tactic can even be stretched to making more involved decisions, such as which car to buy. Yes, the gas guzzling, bright red, convertible, two-seater sports car may be in the running of options, but when you have a family is it going to be the best option? Think, “Which option is the best outcome for me?” Rather than just, “What do I want?”
Go on, flex that decision-making muscle!