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The Decision Matrix: How to Prioritize What Matters

What to focus on

Consequential and irreversible decisions are the ones that you really need to focus on, and the extra time and energy saved can be utilized in this area.

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The Decision Matrix: How to Prioritize What Matters

The Decision Matrix: How to Prioritize What Matters

https://fs.blog/2018/09/decision-matrix/

fs.blog

6

Key Ideas

Not all decisions are the same

The decisions we spend the most time on are rarely the most important ones.

The Decision Matrix

This is a decision making version of the Eisenhower Matrix, which helps you distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent, in a simple and easy to understand way.

The Decision Matrix

Decisions can be classified as:
  • Irreversible and inconsequential
  • Irreversible and consequential
  • Reversible and inconsequential
  • Reversible and consequential

Save Time by delegating

Delegated both types of inconsequential decisions to subordinates or the team helps save a lot of time.

Inconsequential decisions are the perfect training ground to develop judgment.

Tricky Decisions

Reversible and consequential decisions  trick you into thinking they are one big important decision.

In reality, reversible and consequential decisions are the perfect decisions to run experiments and gather information.

What to focus on

Consequential and irreversible decisions are the ones that you really need to focus on, and the extra time and energy saved can be utilized in this area.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

10/10/10 Rule

Before making a decision, considers how you’ll feel about this decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.

It’s easy to make short-term decisions that may be beneficial 10 minutes...

Pareto’s Law

In anything we do, there’s always ~20% of activities that will deliver 80% of our desired results.

It’s easy to be wrapped up in ‘busy’ work without ever getting anything done. Pareto’s Law is a useful mental model to be more effective, rather than just be efficient.

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. So try placing artificial time limitations.

If we’re given three hours to complete a task that normally would take an hour, we’ll find a way to fill those three hours. However, when we’re down to the final thirty minutes, we’re suddenly feeling the pressure to get things done. 

The ABCDs of categorizing decisions
The ABCDs of categorizing decisions
  • Big-bet decisions: infrequent and high-risk - from major acquisitions to game-changing capital investments;
  • Cross-cutting decisions: frequent and high-risk - think pricin...
Approaching big bet decisions
  • Appoint an executive sponsor to work with a project lead to frame important decisions for senior leaders to weigh in on;
  • Break things down (with decision meetings at each stage), and connect them up.
  • Focuses on debating the solution (instead of endlessly elaborating the problem) and gather the right people.
  • Move faster without losing commitment: get comfortable living with imperfect data and being clear about what “good enough” looks like.
Approaching cross-cutting decisions
  • Identify decisions that involve a cross-cutting group of leaders, and work with the stakeholders of each to agree on what the main steps in the process entail.
  • Work through a set of real-life scenarios to pressure-test the system in collaboration with the people who will be running the process.
  • Limit the number of decision-making bodies, and clarify for each its mandate, standing membership, roles etc.
  • Create shared objectives, metrics, and collaboration targets.

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Denying you have a problem

Stop saying that you don't have enough time to complete your commitments.

Admit that you need to get better at managing your time and start searching and trying techniques that will help you ...

Not planning your day

It's important to have an idea of what your daily priorities are and tasks you need to complete, preferably the night before. 

Also, make sure you prepare in the evening the outfit you're going to wear and the meals for the following day. Doing this will save time in the morning, and reduce decision fatigue.

"Urgent" vs "Important"

Take all of your tasks and place them into four quadrants:

  • To do first: the most important responsibilities that need to be done today or tomorrow.
  • Schedule: important tasks that are not urgent.
  • Delegate: essential items that are not important.
  • Don't do: tasks that aren't important or urgent. 

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Jack Mezirow

"By far the most significant learning experience in adulthood involves critical self-reflection - reassessin..."

Jack Mezirow
3 areas of life to clarify

You need to have absolute clarity over 3 fundamental facts:

  • Your goals (the destination)
  • Your current situation (your coordinates)
  • The path that connects both of them (the route).

A very simple, but crucial principle: if you don’t know where you are, you can never reach the place where you want to be.

The world of the status quo bias

Making an alternative choice is hard because we are neurologically wired to favor the default solution, even if it brings suboptimal results.

As the complexity of a decision increases, so does our tendency to stick with the answer we know.

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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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The Law of Triviality
The Law of Triviality

Also known as “bike-shedding" the Law of Triviality states that the amount of time spent discussing an issue in an organization is inversely proportioned to its actual importance

Bikeshedding explained

The metaphor is as follows: Imagine a financial committee meeting to discuss a three-point agenda.

  • A proposal for a £10 million nuclear power plant
  • A proposal for a £350 bike shed
  • A proposal for a £21 annual coffee budget

The committee normally ends up running through the nuclear power plant proposal in little time because it's too advanced to really get into it.

The bike shed proposal takes much longer as everyone knows what it is and has an opinion that they want to air about it.

As the committee moves on to the coffee budget, suddenly everyone is an expert. _Before anyone realizes, they spend longer discussing the £21 coffee budget than the power plant and the bike shed combined.

Having an opinion

The simpler a topic, the more people will have an opinion about it. However, when we mostly understand a topic, we feel compelled to say something, lest we look foolish.

With any topic, we should seek out the inputs from those who have done the work to have an opinion. If we want to contribute, it should be something valuable that will improve the outcome of the decision.

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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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Eisenhower Decision Matrix
Eisenhower Decision Matrix

The matrix consists of a square divided into 4 quadrants:

  1. Important/Urgent quadrants are done immediately and personally;
  2. Important/Not Urgent quadrants get an end ...
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 t...

Make Big Decisions In The Morning

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.

Pay Attention To Your Emotions

...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.

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Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.


Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

Availability Heuristic appears when we assume that the examples coming to mind easily are the most prevalent.

Availability Heuristic appears when we assume that the examples coming to mind easily are the most prevalent.

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