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The guide to effective decision-making

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Every one of us has to make decisions all of the time, whether we like it or not. These range from trivial questions like what to have for lunch, all the way up to life-changing decisions like where and what to study, and who to marry. For many managers or founders, decision-making is one of the greatest challenges that comes with their role.

A version of this blogpost was first published by PEAK. Read the original here.

We collected the best decision-making tips and strategies for you to implement into your daily life.

Important or pressing? Understand the difference

In stressful situations in particular, it can be difficult to distinguish between things that are time-sensitive and things that are important. To have many urgent but small tasks robs us of valuable time, as well as the concentration needed for more significant undertakings.

The foundation of structured decision-making is a system that enables us to highlight the tasks that need tackling right away and those that can be set aside. Such a method keeps us focused, holds our concentration, and frees up space for the more important things.

With the famous time management matrix by Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you can focus on more important things and not be distracted by the little stuff.

Read more about how the matrix works on Forbes.

Differentiate between intuitive and analytical decisions

When we face a new task or challenge, we tend to jump in impulsively and look for solutions. However, this can result in us overlooking important facts and narrowing our perspective. One way to avoid this is by applying the two aspects in turn. Numerous studies have shown how experts can make good, goal-orientated decisions using their gut instinct. However, these same studies also show how easily our intuition can be influenced by external and internal factors. Trust your intuition, but back far-reaching decisions up with a structured, situational analysis at the same time.

Make analytical decisions in a structured way

How can we avoid getting caught up in impulsive decision-making, overlooking important factors in the process? Let’s consider pilots, who draw upon metacognitive rules when making life-or-death decisions.

  • First, gather and examine the available facts
  • Generate as many reactions as possible based on these facts
  • Weigh the pros and cons and, only then, make a decision

It’s useful to start with reason, then gather facts and figures. Once you have an obvious ‘decision’, it’s your intuition that steps in. How do you feel about the ‘answer’? Does it feel right? If you do not have enough information, it can feel like you’re making a decision without any basis.

Take time to gather the necessary data to inform your decision, even if the timescale is tight. And always remember this: any decision is better than no decision.

 

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