If you are a knowledge worker, most of your work is trying to make the right decisions using a large amount of information. You need to discern what is the most effective for a desired goal and anticipate potential problems.
You may find yourself wanting to make decisions faster so you can be more productive. But this is a flawed approach.
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You can't force yourself to think faster. If you do, you'll likely make worse decisions.
There is a way to improve the quality of your decisions without resorting to hacks to speed them up.
Everyone is trying to work faster all the time, and they pressure everyone around them to work faster too. Examples include:
However, speeding up often results in poor decisions that create future problems. We can't force ourselves to make faster decisions just because we're faced with an unrealistic deadline.
The rate at which we process information is fixed, Tom DeMarco points out. If you're under pressure, the quality of your decision worsens. You may miss possible angles, won't think ahead, etc.
The clearer you think, the better your decisions will be. This often means you have to slow down and spend more time on your decisions.
Integrating new, better approaches to thinking does not lead to immediate improvements. It takes lots of time and repetition, just like any other skills.
Making good decisions is hard work and needs reduced pressure. It requires constant learning and verifying what you think you know, especially in the fields where the most relevant information has a short half-life. Instead of thinking faster, try to think better.
Why is marking a book indispensable to reading it?
First, it keeps you awake, not merely conscious, but wide awake.
Second, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.
Third, writing your reactions down helps you to remember the thoughts of the author.
Our various cognitive biases make us behave irrationally, even though we believe we are acting logically. If we are tired, in a rush, or are distracted we tend to rush towards a bad decision. Other factors include working with an authority figure or in a group.
The rule to follow is to never make important decisions when one is emotionally weak, tired, distracted, or in a hurry.
When we look at situations, we prefer to look for what is distinct. Instead, we should pay attention to the similarities.
The four words "this time is different" makes us incorrectly think that differences are more valuable than similarities. When your reasoning and plans are based on the differences, you are probably speculating.