On a daily basis normal person makes countless decisions. In fact, some statistics state that average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day. Some can be trivial, like deciding what to have for breakfast, other major, like deciding on the direction of your project, or how to deal with underperforming vendor or improve team performance.
Dealing with 35,000 decisions can be overwhelming. This is probably the reason why so many people learn to procrastinate and delay their decisions. How can you avoid the overwhelm and make necessary decisions faster?
Here are my top tips to help you speed up the decision making process without creating unwanted disasters.
1. Decisions need to improve status quo
There are good decisions and bad decisions. None of us is prone to the bad ones. To minimize them, start with the end in mind. If you take this step, what will be the consequences today, next week and next year? Will this decision improve the situation or will it make things worse? What can go wrong? If it’s a temporary setback, how will you work your way out?
2. Decisions need to be prioritized
There are major decisions like what market to expand into, whom to hire, or what vendor to partner up with. And there are also minor decisions like the paint colour in your office or number of copies to be printed. In my 20+ years experience working with leaders I’ve noticed that most projects fail on minor decisions. Paint colour or number of copies seem unimportant to someone considering firing a team member or dealing with vendor challenges. But there are other people waiting for the answer, unable to move forward on their assigned projects, experiencing unnecessary delays.
At the end of the day, if the new office space is delayed by 3 months or conference materials are printed very last minute, it comes back to that seemingly unimportant decision that you didn’t make. No matter the importance, all of the decisions have to be made. They just shouldn’t require the same amount of time and energy, which brings me to the next point.
3. Decisions need to be timely
If your deadline is a “maybe”, chances of it happening are close to zero. Once you prioritized the decisions to be made, it’s important that you stop sweating the small stuff. Most people can deal with major decisions – set deadlines and allocate necessary time to move forward. It’s the minor decisions that cause unnecessary havoc. To avoid delays, schedule time each day (or week) to quickly process or delegate those small requests to help your team move forward. I teach my teams to send me requests with deadlines attached to help me understand when they need it by. This way the workflow continues and everyone is happy.
4. Decisions need to be evaluated
This is extremely valuable, yet not many leaders do it. Looking back at what worked and what backfired helps you remove the blind spots and turn experience into insight. Look back at your day/week and notice what decisions contributed to your success and which ones could be done differently. What have you learned? What should you do differently next time?
Here’s a list of sample evaluation questions to help you start:
- What decisions are waiting for you?
- Is the decision in front of me a major one or should it be done quickly? Do I need to delegate it to someone else?
- What are the deadlines for these decisions?
- What resources do you need to make these decisions? Who can help you or how will you move forward?
- What can you do to speed up your decision making process?
- If __[enter name of your favorite leader]__ had your job, what would he/she do differently?
What tricks or strategies do you use to make faster decisions? Let me know on social media.