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5 Expert-Approved Ways to Make Smarter Decisions

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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5 Expert-Approved Ways to Make Smarter Decisions

5 Expert-Approved Ways to Make Smarter Decisions

https://www.thecut.com/2014/06/5-expert-approved-ways-to-make-smarter-decisions.html

thecut.com

6

Key Ideas

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.

Estimate twice, decide once

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. 

Use a “planning prompt”

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.

Decide in advance

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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Do some math

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

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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.

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.

You're not as smart as you think

It wasn't an individual that got people to the moon. It was all of NASA. 

There should be recognition of how many people really should be involved and the need for mechanisms to deliver smarter decisions.

There is safety in numbers
According to Heath, one study at a mid-sized high tech company showed that a group of leaders thought decisions were six times more effective when they considered two alternatives instead of one. Instead of asking a group for its decision, request the two top choices.

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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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