Turn Small Decisions Into Routines

Decision-making works like a muscle: as you use it over the course of the day, it gets too exhausted to function effectively.

One way to avoid this is to eliminate smaller decisions by turning them into routines.

For example: Steve Jobs famously wore a black turtleneck to work every day. Mark Zuckerberg still dons a hoodie. Doing so frees up mental resources for more complex decisions.

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Save small decisions for after work (when decision fatigue kicks in) and to tackle complex decisions in the morning, when your mind is fresh

A similar strategy is to do some of the smaller things the night before to get a head start on the next day.

...and you'll able to look at decisions as objectively and rationally as possible.

Strong decision-makers know that a bad mood can make them lash out or stray from their moral compass just as easily as a good mood can make them overconfident and impulsive.

Helpful criteria to consider:

  • How does this decision benefit me?
  • How does it hurt me?
  • Does the decision reflect my values?
  • Would I regret making this decision? Would I regret not making this decision? 

Sleeping on your decision helps you clarify your thoughts for when you approach it the following day.

It also allows time for your emotions to run their course.

Instead of waiting for the moons to align, successful people know that they need to have a timetable to follow in reaching their decision. 

When you find yourself stressing about a decision, try exercising. 

30 minutes of physical activity should be enough to increase your endorphins levels and return to mental clarity.

Morals serve as trusted guides when your emotions are pulling you in a different direction.

To avoid confirmation bias (cherry-picking only ideas that support your decisions), seek outside opinions and advice from people who bring different perspectives to your situation.

Keep past decisions in your mind. 

Successful people are aware enough of past decisions to use them to their benefit when something similar comes up.

Mark Twain
“Good decisions come from experience, but experience comes from making bad decisions.”

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Humans are not good at impartially evaluating the risks and rewards of any decision.

Our ‘thinking’ brain loses out to our ‘feeling’ brain, that is our natural cravings, desires and urges. We can curb this by being self-aware and thinking through any important decision.

The more information we have to consider, the longer we typically take to make a decision. 

While the decision-making process should be thorough, the best way to make good decisions is usually not to take more time or to look at more information. Instead, review the pertinent information you need, set a deadline to make a decision, and then stick to it.

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