The One-Minute Decision

One minuteWe’re all barraged with decisions every day. We don’t have time for complex decision analysis. What we need is a way to make a one-minute decision. Here are some ideas:

List the pros

I found a great one-minute decision technique on the blog, “101 Questions That Will Change Your Life” by Jacqueline Garwood. Check it out for other decision-making insights.

This technique comes from Susan Jeffers’s book, ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.’ It’s based on that old standard of list-the-pros-and-cons. Here’s the twist—list only the pros. First open your mind to all the possible alternatives. For each one, list all the good things about that option. Then count the number of items in each list. The option with the most points wins. Go with it. That’s all there is to it.

I like this technique because first of all, it’s fast, and, more importantly, it focuses on the positive changes you are considering. This gets over the fear of loss that keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us focused on the positive changes that we can make.

Best and worst

You don’t even have to write anything down for this one. This is good for those decisions in which you’re trying to decide whether or not to do something. It’s just three questions:

  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Is the chance of the best worth the risk of the worst?

I like this because it acknowledges that we can’t completely control the outcome and that there is a chance that it could turn out either good or bad. This is the basis for more sophisticated techniques, such as decision trees, used here for a super-quick decision.

Is it really me?

Steve Pavlina’s blog gives this technique. Rather than coming up with a list of criteria for what you’re looking for, make a list of words that describe yourself. Then choose the option that best fits that description. He gives an example of buying a desk. He saw himself as light, tough, not ornate and a little bit weird, so he was drawn to a desk with those same qualities. He’s been happy with it ever since.

Flip a coin

Yes, yes, I know. That’s a random choice and not a real decision. Here’s the twist. Pay attention to your reaction to the outcome. Are you pleased or disappointed? Were you subtly hoping for one outcome or the other? Then listen to your gut and go with it.

Prep yourself for quick decisions

In a previous post I talked about how taking the time to define your values and priorities prepares you to make quick, tough decisions. So, before you get barraged with decisions to make, ask yourself:

  • What are my (my organization’s) core values?
  • What are the resources I (we) have available for alternative solutions to the problems we expect to face?

The one-minute pre-decision

Most importantly, before you make any decision, even a one-minute one, spend a minute to be sure you’re asking the right questions. Daniel Tenner in his blog suggests the following questions before making a decision:

  • Do I actually know what the problem is?
  • Do I know the extent and impact of the problem?
  • Who is the best person to fix this problem?
  • Does this problem actually need to be fixed?

How do you make quick decisions? Can you suggest any more techniques?

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