The average person makes upward toward 2,000 decisions every hour. If you’re a leader, or key decision-maker at work, you can increase not only the amount of decisions, but the difficulty of them. The challenge is that decision-making is a mental task, and expert Mike Erwin argues that when we exert our mental energy over-and-over, we can become fatigued. And when fatigue sets in, it can result in poor performance. The last thing that leaders want is poor decision-making performance.
What is fascinating is that the human brain has to process five times as much information as it did in 1986. The problem with this increase in processing overload is that the brain isn’t even aware when it’s tired or impaired. We just keep making decisions even when we’re making bad ones. Unfortunately, we’re often not even aware of our poor choices until it’s too late.
One key to better decision-making is to automate routines. Daily routines not only help to create space for better decisions, they reserve your decision-making energy for when tough decisions need to be made. Take time for the following three challenges–only three minutes each–and you’ll see a marked difference in how you feel about your next big decision.
#1: Prioritize Blocks of Time–Everyone operates on a unique time-to-energy continuum. This means that your greatest points of energy, for your most important decisions, occur at regular intervals. Dan Pink addresses this in his book When, which we highly recommend. The challenge is to block time in your day for your biggest, most important projects. Take three minutes at the beginning or end of each day, and be sure to block time for what matters most to you. Here’s a resource.
#2: Keep Clear Routines–We mentioned that Steve Jobs and President Obama made very limited choices regarding what to wear each day. This saves decision-making energy for other more important aspects of life and work. Clear routines can help to keep your exerted energy low and your decision-making powers at their greatest strength. Take three minutes and decide upon the aspects of life and work that you simply do not need to make a decision about each day–what to eat for breakfast and lunch, what route to take to work, what brand of coffee to use. Eliminating certain simple decisions is the catalyst for more or better decisions in your day or week. Here’s a resource.
#3: Slow Down–Automating routines is not the same as automating decisions. Routine automation is about finding simple ways to quit making decisions so that you don’t make decisions automatically when they need more thought and consideration. With the steady onslaught of information and distractions we get each day, we often make decisions with our emotions, while multitasking, or without the proper information to be accurate. Next time you have to make a decision–even if it feels like a quick and easy one to make–slow down, take a deep breath, take a short walk, and use just three minutes to be your calmest self whenever possible. Here’s a resource.
Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.