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3 Research-Backed Techniques for Making Better Decisions

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

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3 Research-Backed Techniques for Making Better Decisions

3 Research-Backed Techniques for Making Better Decisions

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-researchbacked-techniques-for-making-better-decisions

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Key Ideas

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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

"Good" Decisions

  • Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones, since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light.
  • Thought-out decisions tend to trump ...

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.

Give yourself some time

Accuracy and reliability in decision making tends to increase if you first give yourself some time to decompress and collect yourself.

This may also help you remove yourself from the problem, knocking out two of these strategies at a time.

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Work on the right decision

The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. 

State your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity and avoid unwarranted assumptions ...

Specify your objectives

A decision is a means to an endAsk yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are most relevant to achieving your goal.

Decisions with multiple objectives cannot be resolved by focusing on any one objective.

Create imaginative alternatives

Your decision can be no better than your best alternative.

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Overlooking Failure

Societies with a bias towards success, that are idolizing of successful people usually overlook the decisions that led to failure.

We tend to overlook cases that did not come with a successfu...

Mental Models

The way you look at how something works in the real world is called a mental model. It’s your thinking framework about something.

But when we make decisions, we often don’t think about our framework and immediately jump to a discussion about potential outcomes.

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Everything seems stupid when it fails.”

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2,000 decisions per waking hour

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.

That's why...

Decision fatigue

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.

A steady state of distraction

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.

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Our emotions are short-term biased

Our emotions are obsessed with the present moment because it’s difficult to look past our immediate fears and anxieties. And this prevents good decision-making.

The sweet spot in de...

“Risky” behavior you should consider
  • Propose “moonshot” ideas, knowing that 90% of them will get shot down, but that if one of them gets accepted, it will be a huge boost to your career.
  • Be excessively bold in your dating life, stating exactly who and what you want.
  • Buy difficult books expecting that most of them won’t be useful to you, but also that, occasionally, one will completely change your life.
  • Say yes to every invitation knowing that most of the events/people will be boring, but that occasionally you’ll meet someone really interesting.
Optimizing life for fewer regrets

Most of us are afraid of messing thing up. But we rarely ask, “Would I regret that failure?” If the answer is “no,” then that is absolutely a risk you should pursue.

Sometimes, the right decision becomes crystal clear when put into these terms.

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Decision making and biases

Experts have known for a while that ...

Mental time travel

A common decision-making problem is failing to have enough imagination with regards to what could go wrong or falling victim to simple overconfidence. 

Envision the future. There’s evidence that this exercise can broaden your outlook and highlight problems that might not come to mind otherwise.

Don’t make an important decision

... when you're hungry, or sleepy, or angry.

Research has shown that our susceptibility to bias increases when we’re stressed, whether because of exhaustion, hunger, or a heightened emotional state.

Delaying a crucial decision, if possible, might be preferable to making it under conditions of stress.

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Make Better Choices
  • Seek good information. Be skeptic and never just assume that what you’re being told is always true.
  • Avoid common pitfalls, like making decisions without enough time or in...
Default choices
Default choices

90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.

To make smarter choices, design smarter...

Designing your life

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.
Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler

“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 

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Zero-based thinking

It gives us the rare opportunity to ask ourselves if there anything in our lives that we should do more of, less of, start or stop.

It is a decision thinking technique developed by Brian...

Difficult decisions

Difficult decisions are mostly about weighing the long and short term values. Making objective decisions is difficult because we are biased towards short-term rewards and pre-existing beliefs.

Optimal choices

Ask yourself, knowing what you know now, is there anything you are doing today that you wouldn't do again if you were able to?  

Be willing to stop doing what no longer works. Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and try something else. Be prepared to take risks and understand the potential failure that goes with a new course of action.

one more idea

A checklist for faster, better decisions
  • Write down 3 existing company goals impacted by the decision;
  • Write down at least 3 realistic alternatives;
  • Write down the most important information you...