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The threat, uncertainty, and anxiety related to the pandemic lead us to make short-sighted decisions:
People want to take action quickly, even when inaction might be more prudent.
Faced with anxiety, some are making quick decisions about finances as well and started fear selling their stocks. But this is taking a paper loss in the present that is likely to come back in the future (given the way stock markets have acted in the past).
To make good decisions in troubled times, it's best to slow down, even if our fears urge us to take action.
Most of the actions you are likely to take will not be prudent in the face of a potential pandemic. By slowing down, you can use deliberative reasoning with data.
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At the same time, it is also important to know the essential updates, like the recommended social distancing and events being canceled.
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One possible reason for the "optimism bias" is found in the way we learn new information. People are quicker to change their beliefs when the information is better than expected, compared to information that is worse than expected.
Outcomes bias it thinking that because things turned out reasonably good, we can underestimate how close they came to going wrong.
In the past 20 years, there have been two outbreaks of diseases caused by the new viruses. The outbreak of 2003 killed 774 people before it was contained, and the Mers outbreak in 2012 has killed 858. The new virus has far surpassed both.
Research has shown that the typical person makes about 2,000 decisions every waking hour. Most are minor ones and we make them automatically. But many have serious consequences.
Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly used.
Identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.
Our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Thus, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus.
To counter this, find time each day to unplug and step back from email, social media and news.