Step away from the problem - Deepstash

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A Practical Manual for Making Better Decisions

Step away from the problem

Distancing yourself from a problem can help you face it in a more objective way. 

Instead of remaining in your own frame of mind, consider yourself as an outside observer, such as a friend giving advice or a fly on the wall. Removing yourself in this way helps you filter out some of your cognitive biases and lean you toward a more rational decision.

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Do some math

You make one decision, wait, make a second decision, and then make a compromise between the two.

Averaging the two judgments tends to outperform trying to identify the better of the two, because answers based on different pools of evidence often bracket with the truth, and because people are imperfect at guessing which answer is better

Pair a good decision with a bad one

If you only allow yourself your vice while you’re simultaneously being virtuous,  you’ll spend more time doing things that are good for you and less time doing the “bad” things. 

The researchers call this “pre-bundling” and say it allows people to couple instantly gratifying activities (such as watching trashy TV) with a behavior that’s beneficial in the long term but requires willpower (like working out).

Take things one at a time

Next time you’re faced with a problem with many possible answers, pinpoint your end goals and then come up with a solution for each.

This is likely to lead to the generation of a diverse set of options covering multiple categories of solutions.

Acknowledge biases

Think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision: How much and how well do you know the other people involved with the decision? What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Your Biases

Our decisions stop being objective when our emotions and biases begin to interfere with our evaluations. In order to reduce this impact, think critically about your own mentality and what factors could contribute to a subjective decision. 

What past experiences could lead you to a biased view of the different options available to you? What assumptions have you made? 

Pro and Con Lists

Take each option in your decision and make two lists for each; on one side, you'll have all the benefits of an option and on the other, you'll have all the downsides. 

Try to give your list a sense of scale. This can help you think through all the positives and negatives of all your options, and help you visualize the generally best candidate.

For decision-making success:
  1. Book time to think: It’s counterintuitive, but making decisions faster requires consciously giving yourself time to make them.
  2. Define the decision: Before delving into deciding, get clear on the nature of the choice you’re making.
  3. Think through your options: Instead of limiting yourself to a “yes” or “no” choice, brainstorm all the possible options before making a decision.
Fall back on your values

Having clear values that you try to live by can make tough decisions easier.

For example, maybe you know there’s a certain amount of time you want to spend with your family, or a baseline level of debt you’re willing to carry.

Talk it through

You don’t need to speak with someone who’s knowledgeable on the topic. 

You just need a good listener who’ll give you time and space to hear out your monologue and occasionally reflect back to you what you’ve shared.