How To Make Faster Decisions in 6 Steps (Plus Benefits and Tips)
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Professionals often have to make many decisions, both small and large, on a regular basis. Learning how to make faster decisions can help minimize the potential of experiencing decision fatigue, improve your time-management skills and even optimize your ability to choose the best option. To make faster decisions, it's crucial to understand the steps and methods you can use during the decision-making process. In this article, we discuss why making decisions quickly matters, explain how to make faster decisions and offer tips to improve the speed of your decision-making process.
Why is it important to make faster decisions?
Making faster decisions can benefit both you as an individual and your business. Here are some reasons that making quicker decisions matters:
Optimized cost-efficiency: Businesses that spend too much time making decisions may find their operational costs are higher, as they spend more time getting fewer tasks done. By learning how to make decisions faster, your company may save money and make better use of its operational hours.
Reduced chance of decision fatigue: Decision fatigue refers to exhaustion from spending too much mental or emotional energy trying to make decisions. When you know how to decide with greater efficiency, you decrease the likelihood of experiencing decision fatigue.
Improved decisions: Although it might seem like spending a long time deciding allows you to make better choices, spending too much time making decisions may decrease your ability to analyze your options effectively. Making faster decisions can help ensure that you evaluate your choices and their influencing factors with greater clarity.
How to make faster decisions
Here is a process for how to make faster decisions in six steps:
1. Determine the stakes
Figure out the stakes or importance of your decision. For low-stakes decisions, spend less time making your choice so that you can have more energy for decisions with greater importance. A decision may be low-stakes if one or more of the following are true:
The environment is one you're familiar with. If you understand the circumstances of the decision, it might be a lower-stakes choice. For example, if you've made decisions about payroll before, you already know many of the factors involved in making choices related to payroll and might be able to expend less energy on future payroll decisions.
You can change the decision later. If a decision can be easily reversed or modified, you may not need to spend as much time making the choice.
The consequences are minimal. The potential impact of a decision is crucial when evaluating if a decision is low- or high-stakes. For example, choosing a location for a business lunch is generally considered low-stakes because the effects of that decision likely won't matter in a few hours or days.
2. Know your objective
Determine your ultimate goal in making the decision. Keeping your aim in mind throughout your decision-making process can help you focus on the factors and possibilities most relevant to your goal. For example, if you're trying to decide on a new marketing strategy, your goal might be to boost customer engagement.
3. Design criteria
Create a set of criteria that can help you evaluate your various options. Select criteria that relate to your ultimate goal. It's also important for your criteria to be as objective as possible. For instance, if you're determining a new product to develop, your criteria may include market need and cost-efficiency.
4. Collect evidence
Gather relevant facts, data and information. Having this objective evidence can help you understand the situation thoroughly and move forward confidently with your ultimate choice. If, for example, you're managing a gigantic project at work, you might gather statistics related to your past projects or talk to previous project managers.
5. Minimize your emotions
Try to minimize your personal feelings about the decision. Sometimes you might spend longer making a decision because it could affect you, your colleagues or other people in your network. In general, however, it's best to focus on objective facts rather than emotions when making business-related choices. Consider trying one or more of the following strategies to help you make your decision based primarily on facts and goals:
Collaborate with others. Talk with other people affected by the decision to see what criteria or goals matter most to them. You might also talk with a neutral party to get a more objective view of the situation.
Write down your options. Make a list of all your options, along with the pros and cons of each. Writing down your choices can help you focus on the most essential information.
Set a timer or make a deadline. Create a self-imposed deadline for when you must make the decision. Alternatively, you might even set a timer that encourages you to decide within a few minutes or hours.
Consult with an expert. Find someone with expertise related to your decision. For example, if you're analyzing career options for yourself, see if you can talk to people who already have those careers.
6. Commit to your decision
Once you've selected the best option, commit to that decision. Some people take a long time deciding because they continually reevaluate their options. By adhering to your decision, you reduce your chances of experiencing decision fatigue and improve your ability to mentally progress onto the next task.
Tips for making faster decisions
Here is some advice to help you make effective decisions more rapidly:
If possible, delegate the decision to someone else. Managers and other company leaders may be able to give certain decision-making responsibilities to their supervisees. If you decide to delegate one of your pending decisions, make sure that the employee has all the information they need related to the decision or the tools that can help them gain the information.
Limit your research
Set boundaries for yourself with how much time you spend researching. With so much data readily available, it can be easy to spend a lot of time collecting information and data. However, you may reach a point where the data-gathering leads you to over-analyze all of your options and become fatigued. Here are some ways to set limits on the research phase of your decision-making process:
Use only reputable sources. When doing research online or through publications, consult only the most reputable or expert sources. This may include websites run by governments or publications created by academic institutions.
Create summations of your data. If there's lots of data available related to your decision, use data processing techniques to merge the data sets. Reducing the data strategically can make it easier to evaluate and comprehend while assessing your options.
Set a deadline or a maximum number of sources. Decide ahead of time how many hours or days you plan to devote to the research phase. Alternatively, or in addition, you could determine beforehand how many sources you plan to review.
Trust your intuition
In general, professionals make the most effective business decisions using logic, objective data and long-term goals. However, sometimes you might end up with several options that make sense from a logical perspective. In this case, listen to and trust your intuition, or your internal sense that one option may be best.
Be comfortable making mistakes
Some people may struggle to decide quickly because they worry about making the wrong decision. Try to accept the fact that sometimes mistakes may occur during your decision-making process and that it's perfectly normal. If you do make a mistake, acknowledge your error and evaluate what happened. With this attitude and approach, that mistake can become a learning experience that helps you alter the error or improve your future decisions.
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