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Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

Remove the need to take action

If you can completely remove the need to do anything then you’re saving the greatest amount of willpower and decisiveness. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Automate.
  • Silence (your technology, to remove the decision of checking or not checking that message you received).
  • Delegate/Outsource. 

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Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

https://www.nateliason.com/blog/decision-fatigue

nateliason.com

7

Key Ideas

Decision fatigue

As you make more decisions (especially difficult ones), and as you consider more options, you start to get mentally tired making your subsequent decisions worse and more difficult.

An excess of options will also increase your likelihood to avoid making a decision entirely.

Fewer options and decision making

We assume more options will make us happier, but that's not true.

By strategically decreasing the number of decisions we need to make we're making sure we actually choose something, and we can save our decisiveness for when it really counts.

Rules

A rule is a predetermined response to a given situation, a set action for how you’ll handle a common situation so that you don’t waste any time trying to decide between two or more small and unimportant options.

Examples: "I Never answer calls from unrecognized numbers" or "I don’t check email before 10 am, after 7 pm, or on Saturday."

Priorities

They remind you of what you believe you should spend your time on so that even when you’re caught up in momentary excitement you stick to your goals.

They help in dealing with big decisions.

Systems for decision making

You can create systems to offload decision making. The simplest type of system is a bunch of rules strung together into a chain of good decisions, where each on mandates the next.

For example: Put your workout clothes out at night so that when you wake up you immediately put them on and go running.

Checklists

A checklist must be completed every time you’re going through a repeated process.

Areas where simple checklists can make your life much easier: for a  list of things you need to remember each morning or for a task you repeat every day, week, or even month at work.

Remove the need to take action

If you can completely remove the need to do anything then you’re saving the greatest amount of willpower and decisiveness. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Automate.
  • Silence (your technology, to remove the decision of checking or not checking that message you received).
  • Delegate/Outsource. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Pretend You're Advising a Friend

Think outside yourself a little and pretend like you're offering advice. 

The reasoning here is really simple: your short-term emotions get in the way of decisions, and that clouds yo...

Limit The Information You Take In

We usually believe that the more information you have, the better decisions we can make. However, at some point, we cross a threshold where we have too much information. That's when we start to fill in gaps and add weight to information that doesn't matter. 

This makes decision making way more difficult.

Reverse Your Assumptions

You're so prone to continue making the same kind of choices throughout your life that challenging yourself and doing the exact opposite is often the best way to get around this problem. 

The idea here is to confront your default behavior, step outside your comfort zone, and use your imagination to test some completely new ideas.

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"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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Make all important & difficult decisions on paper

It relieves pressure from the situation and allows your mind to focus on the task at hand, rather than spiraling into self-doubt and second-guessing.

When making decisions, get clear about your reasons

You’ve got to get absolutely crystal clear about your outcome and your purpose. If you forget the reasons behind your decision, you won’t follow through. 

Don't let fear motivate your decision making

And don’t wait for absolute certainty because you’ll almost never get it. One of the ways to overcome this is to have a consistent process for making decisions. 

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Not Making Good Decisions
We are exposed to biases that influence our ability to make good decisions.
  • We are quick to jump to conclusions because we fail to search for information that might disprove our thoughts.
The Four Villains of Decision Making
  • Narrow framing: The tendency to define our choices in binary terms. We ask, "should I, or shouldn't I?" instead of “What are the ways I could...?”
  • Confirmation bias: People tend to select the information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs, and actions. 
  • Short-term emotion: When we’ve got a difficult decision to make, our feelings occupy our minds. And this doesn't add any new information that could benefit us. 
  • Overconfidence: People often think they know more than they actually do about how the future will unfold.
Defeating Decision-Making Villains
  • Counter narrow framing by widening your options. Expand your set of choices.
  • Confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information. Analyze and test your assumptions to overcome the bias.
  • Short-term emotion will tempt you to make the wrong choice. So distance yourself before deciding.
  • Prepare to be wrong. Don't be overconfident about how the future will unfold.
Default options

Deciding is too much effort so we’re likely to just stick with the default or safer option if it’s already been chosen for us. 

When we get offered too many choices, the same...

Best decision making happens in the morning

This is when serotonin is at it’s natural high, which helps to calm our brain. Thus, we feel less risk averse and so we can face risks and make harder choices.

The part our bodies play in decision-making

If we’re feeling hunger, thirst or sexual desire, that can actually spill over into the decision areas of our brains, making us feel more desire for big rewards when we make choices. 

This can lead us to make higher-risk choices and to want for more.

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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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The Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice is generally perceived to be good, but studies show that too much choice can be a hindrance and can impede the decision.

On the contrary, having fewer choices has shown ...

Fear of Better Options

... or Maximization, is a behavioral trait that makes us look for all possible options before we decide so that we don't miss out on the best option and regret later, after making the decision.

We take into consideration all available options to minimize our frustration and stress.

Maximizers vs Satisficers
  • Maximizers feel less satisfied even if they make better decisions, since they had so much choice, and choosing the best comes down to some sort of compromise.
  • Satisficers: They are the people that make quick decisions with fewer options and that tend to be more satisfied.

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Making decisions
Making decisions

Decision making is critical for entrepreneurs. Every day, you have to set out on a course of action, choose tactics, evaluate results, and otherwise choose from arrays of options.

4 common mistakes that can trip you up
  1. Monumentalizing the Trivial. Place a limit on how long you're willing to spend addressing the issue. When the time ends, make your choice and move on.
  2. Dredging Sunk Costs. Estimate how much the decision would take in total to follow through. If the cost is higher than the benefit, change your decision.
  3. Drowning in Data. Identify less than 10 pieces of relevant data that will have a strong impact on your decision's outcome. Then forget everything else.
  4. Do-or-Die Mentality. Realize that every decision is temporary. Use an overall decision-making strategy that stretches over time, not that imagines each moment to be the most critical one for the business.
Decision-making rules

Write a clear, objective set of rules to guide future decisions.

It will enable you to make a decision that is detached from the emotion of the moment.

Don't decide alone

Never make an onerous decision by yourself. Tap into the wisdom of the company's internal crowd.

The 'revolving door' approach

... is a technique that relies on using an outside perspective. 

If you're stuck in a big decision, you have to pretend you're a new CEO or a turnaround manager who can "see things more clearly." Adopting a third-person perspective helps you tap into an objective mode of judgment--one based on facts and an understanding of the consequences.

Making Decisions

People usually make impulsive decisions and take shortcuts while stressed out. A 16th-century Catholic mystic, Ignatius, provides us with some methods of discernment and decision-making, which are ...