Do you agonize over choices or waffle back and forth before finally settling on one? Even if you don’t think you have much difficulty arriving at a decision, everyone can always use a few pointers, right?
Here are some suggestions on how to make the decision-making process a little easier, less stressful, and a lot more satisfying.
To get started, you need a clean and clear space. A cluttered desk, sloppy workspace or no space to sit comfortably do not help you do anything productive – least of all make an important decision.
Take the time to put things where they should go, wipe up spills, toss out unused and unwanted items or trash, and for the files and materials you will need, arrange them neatly on your desk or work area.
If the project or task that requires your decision involves specific files, folders, artwork, renderings or other items, keep them front and center.
When it’s time to think about a decision, you can’t afford any distractions. Simple tips to eliminate them include:
- Turn off your cell phone or let it go to voicemail.
- If you’re in a physical office with a door, close the door.
- Turn off email notification sounds on your computer.
- Better yet, get out of your email client for the time being.
- Let co-workers and your boss know you’re working on a project and are trying to concentrate. (It helps if this is something you’re on deadline to do, as the boss will likely understand.)
- Avoid the tendency to doodle, no surfing the Internet to kill time or game-playing just because you think you can.
Clear your mind
Now it’s time to get down to the business at hand. In order to begin the process of decision-making, it’s necessary to clear your mind. This is often one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in today’s non-stop world.
Since it’s next to impossible to completely wipe out extraneous thoughts, the best way to deal with them is to acknowledge their presence and allow them to go away on their own.
You need a bit of time for all the “noise” in your head to die down, so don’t be in a rush. Gradually, your mind will quiet and your thoughts can become better focused.
Focus on the goal
Speaking of focus, once you’ve cleared your mind it’s the right time to focus on the goal. What do you hope to achieve? What’s your optimum outcome? Are you trying to solve a problem, brainstorm ideas, come up with a creative approach, make a tough choice involving conflicting ideas or options?
Knowing what you want to achieve as an outcome will help you in selecting various avenues and possibilities to consider.
Analyze the pros and cons
The things that come to mind will each have plusses and minuses that you’ll need to take into account. To get through this part of the decision-making process involves the ability to envision what might happen if you choose option A over option B or C, and so on.
Really take the time to think this through. Jot down into columns what the potential outcomes or ramifications for each choice might be. When you can look at these pros and cons on paper, the decision you need to make will be easier, if not obvious.
Sometimes, however, the decision you make will need to be the lesser of two negatives. Always strive to select the choice with the most positive outcome.
Finalize the approach
By now you’ve probably narrowed down your choices and selected the one that you think will serve your needs and help you arrive at the goal you intend.
You’re not done yet.
This is the time to fine-tune your approach, adding the various elements that will make it stand out and shine. You want it to be the best you can do, to reflect your strengths and talents and the benefit of your experience.
It’s possible that you’ll want to make use of one or more facets of other approaches or solutions you were considering. If it helps solidify your ultimate choice or gives it a better chance of success, by all means add it to your approach.
Factor in follow-up
Once you zero in on your decision, the final step before taking action on it is to spend some time figuring out what you’ll need in the form of follow-up.
Will reports help determine the success or failure of your decision? How will the choice you make affect others in the workplace? What benchmarks are important to achieve in order for the decision to be considered effective, valuable, repeatable or industry-first?
Follow-up is one aspect of decision-making that many overlook; yet it is critical to the success of any major decision.
Make the choice
This is the final stretch in decision-making: actually making the choice and beginning to take action. There’s no turning back now. If you’ve gone through the process in a thoughtful and purposeful manner, the decision you make now reflects your attention to detail, your creativity and vision.
Go ahead. Make the choice. And feel good about your decision.
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