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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.

@sim_ni93

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Decision making and biases

Experts have known for a while that our decision-making processes are flawed — and often in predictable ways. We easily succumb to all sorts of biases that prevent us from making smart choices.

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.

When it comes to decisions, conduct whatever research you need to and make your estimate — and then go through the whole thing again, generating a second estimate. Take the average of the two estimates, and you’ll likely make a better decision than you would if you used either on its own. 

When it comes to situations where the benefits of a good decision lie in the future (reduced weight) but compelling temptations to make bad decisions are all too present (nachos), writing down a specific plan of attack can be helpful. 
It can help decision-makers avoid follow-through failures due to both procrastination and forgetfulness.

For a wide range of decisions involving self-restraint, there’s pretty overwhelming evidence that most people are bad at making healthy in-the-moment choices.

Decide well in advance of the moment when those decisions will take effect. Present You, at the supermarket after a meal, is probably a better nutritional decision-maker than Future You, standing in front of the fridge, inexplicably starving at 3 a.m.

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RELATED IDEAS

Bias is everywhere

Being aware of your own biases doesn't mean you will be free of them. You need a system that will help prevent your proclivities from taking control.

Rather refer to bias as "predictable mistakes" that people make when planning. For instance, getting anchored on last year's numbers. That is bias, but the language provides another way of addressing it. It is more pointed and practical.

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IDEAS

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.

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 information.
  • Look at previous mistakes so you learn from them.
  • Check in with yourself and ensure that the environment isn’t influencing your decisions unnecessarily. 
  • Take care of yourself. You are unlikely to make the best decisions when tired or unwell.
  • Make time to think. The multitasking and distraction deluge to which we’re subjected every day can undermine good decision-making.
  • Analyze well. Not getting the outcome you wanted doesn’t necessarily mean the decision was bad.