Would you like to make fewer decisions so you can get things done?
Do you want to stop frittering away your time on trivial matters?
Decision-making plays a huge role in our lives…whether we consciously realize it or not.
We all know how difficult it can be to make big decisions in life, from accepting a job offer, to choosing a partner, to relocating halfway around the world for work.
And sometimes the decision-making process can be quite long, lasting anywhere from several days, weeks, or even possibly months.
But what about those small decisions we have to make every single day?
You may not realize it, but you are constantly making thousands of decisions throughout your daily routine.
You make decisions about what clothes to wear, what foods to eat, which products to buy, and which route to take to work.
Individually, these small decisions may not seem like much.
But if you add everything up, you’ll see that it is a lot of time, energy, and effort put into thinking.
Just imagine for a moment…what you could accomplish if you rerouted all that time and effort towards getting things done?
You’d have more focus, energy, and enthusiasm for all of your goals and dreams.
That’s not a bad way to go about your days, now is it?
In this post, I offer eight tips to help you eliminate or reduce the amount of decisions you make on a daily basis.
It’s all about focusing your attention on what matters most to you, and being mindful enough to tune out the background as necessary.
Limit yourself to two choices.
Decisions can be made much more quickly when you’re faced with two choices…and two choices only.
This is because you’re spending your time weighing the pros and cons for each, and not thinking about the infinite number of choices available to you under the sun.
And there’s a good chance that when you only have two choices, you’ll probably make a decision, sooner rather than later.
Limiting yourself to two choices does take some practice, but the results will be worth it. You may even find your decision-making skills are enhanced once you cut off all those unnecessary and extraneous choices.
When faced with a decision, quickly select two choices, and then make your decision based only on those two choices.
So, will you get coffee from the coffeehouse today on Main Street or Park Avenue? Will you wear the red blazer or the black blazer for your presentation? Will you declutter your desk this afternoon or declutter your bookcase?
Practicing saying “no.”
Getting in the habit of saying “no” to non-essential meetings, appointments, and functions can do a lot for you when it comes to protecting time in your schedule. But you can also use the word “no” to your advantage when you’re out and about in the real world.
Saying “no” makes it easy for you to quickly move through a variety of business, professional, and personal transactions, especially if you’re pressed for time.
Now, this isn’t to say that you won’t ever use a particular service or meet with someone, but it’s just that you won’t do so at that particular moment.
Where in your day can you get in the habit of saying “no, thank you” or “no, thanks, not right now?”
Stick with your favorites.
You’ve got lots of favorites…everything from favorite foods, outfits, shoes, office supplies, and restaurants. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you can streamline your days by simply sticking with your favorites more times than not.
By sticking with your favorites, you eliminate the need to stop, think, and evaluate the best option for needs. Since you’ve already self-selected your preferences, it’s highly unlikely you would second-guess or doubt your decision. What’s more, you’d be more satisfied using your favorites, than choosing an option that is less than exciting to you.
How can you stick with your favorites? It’s worth considering all opportunities you have over the course of the day to select your favorites.
For example, could you pull out your favorite garments to serve as your work wardrobe for the next two weeks? How about using your favorite kitchen utensils when preparing meals? What about pulling out and setting aside your favorite work tools or office supplies?
Unsubscribe from email newsletters.
Email newsletters can be extremely handy, but they can also be overwhelming. How is this the case? Every time you receive a newsletter, there’s a slew of decisions that have to be made on your end..
Do you keep the newsletter or do you delete it? Do you read the newsletter now or later? Do you click on a link to read an article or not? Do you purchase an item from a website or not?
If you constantly receive email newsletters every day, well, that adds up to a lot of decisions on your part.
Consider unsubscribing from email newsletters that no longer interest or serve you. Keep only those subscriptions that you absolutely love to receive or enjoy reading. You’ll probably notice your inbox is a bit lighter as soon as you unsubscribe from those unwanted newsletters.
And don’t worry, if you truly miss receiving a newsletter, you can always resubscribe in future whenever you like.
Set a quota for something.
Have you ever felt overbooked, overwhelmed, or just pulled in too many directions in your day-to-day affairs?
If so, you may want to set a quota, or a limited amount of time, energy, or resources devoted towards meetings, appointments, events, or functions.
Setting a quota may seem a bit restrictive at first (you are putting a self-imposed limit on your schedule, after all), but it can do a world of good for your focus and ability to get things done. Why? Once you’ve reached your self-imposed quota, that’s it.
There’s no more decision-making or bartering. You’ve reached your limit for the time being. A quota cycle can be for any length of time, be it a day, week, month, quarter, or calendar year.
Here’s a simple quota example for you. Let’s say you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of invitations you receive from friends for weekend parties. You could set a quota for yourself to only attend the first three invitations you receive for weekend parties in a single month.
You can attend the first three parties for which you receive invitations, but once you’ve reached your quota, you’ll have to graciously decline any additional invitations you receive.
What’s more, you don’t necessarily need to reach your quota each and every time, per se, but you’ll at least have a helpful guide to keep your time and energy in check.
Make a phone call.
As much as we send emails, texts, and instant messages, sometimes the easiest way to come to a decision or secure someone’s opinion is to speak with them on the phone.
Unlike the written word, whose back and forth entries can become both confusing and tiresome fairly quickly, a phone call ensures instant feedback. Both parties are engaged and can participate in a real-time discussion.
The next time an email chain or series of texts becomes unwieldy (although preferably, you’ll want to take this line of action before things become overwhelming), try picking up the phone. You can have a fruitful chat with the other person, come to an agreement, and confidently part ways, knowing you’ve made solid progress in your work.
Create a meal plan for the week.
Do you find it difficult deciding what to have for lunch or dinner on any day of the week? You can make things easier for yourself by creating a meal plan for the week.
For those new to meal plans, a meal plan is simply a list of each of the meals you’ll prepare and eat for a particular period of time.
The beauty of a meal plan truly lies in its simplicity. Meal planning can free up a lot of time and effort because you only plan once, yet reap the benefits for the remainder of the week. How’s that for making the most of your time and energy?
You can meal plan for any combination of breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and even snacks and beverages, too. Another added bonus in creating a meal plan, is that once you have a basic meal plan created, you can mix things up at any time you so choose.
You can switch meals for different days of the week, or keep a few meals on standby in case you decide to go to a restaurant or order take out from your favorite delivery spot.
Enjoy decision-making at your own pace.
As much as we’ve talked about limiting the amount of decisions you’ll make over the course of a given day, there will be times when you’ll want to break free from the same-old-same-old. The key in making these decisions is doing so when you have sufficient time and energy to do so.
For instance, you probably won’t want to waste time making a decision about attending a friend’s party as you’re heading out the door in the morning to work, before getting ready for a meeting, or when you’re feeling stressed or tired. That’s more of a waste of your time and energy than anything.
You’re probably more likely to enjoy the decision-making process when you’re relaxed, not rushed or hurried, and have the time to enjoy, explore, think, and savor, such as during a break, after work, on vacation, or during the weekend.
When would be a good time during the week for you to relax, think, and enjoy the decision-making process?
How about you? Where in your day or daily routine do you find decision-making to be a big time drain? What steps are you going to take to help smooth out the process and make it less of a decision-making stress fest? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
Do you want help better managing your time and energy? I offer time management coaching and organizing mindset coaching. Click here to learn more.
Want to better manage your time? The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on workbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.