Speeding up decisions
yet another area where people waste a lot of time is in decision making. Now we've all experienced scrolling through the list of movies for half an hour, trying to choose something and in the end giving up on watching a movie altogether. But this can be much more than just those 10 to 30 minutes that you spend staring at the menu at a restaurant. See having difficulty making decisions or what I like to call analysis. Paralysis can add 20 to 30% of wasted time to all kinds of everyday activities such as getting dressed, you're three daily meals, grocery shopping, going out with friends and so on. Not to mention the hours, weeks and months that you can deliberate on big decisions like which card by which person to date and so on. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, according to Barry Schwartz, the author of the book, the paradox of choice having too many choices can not only make the process of choosing miserable, but it can also make us really unhappy with our final ...
outcome. What's more than that? There is a real phenomenon called decision fatigue, which basically says that all of the small decisions that we make every single day are like withdrawals from a pool of decision making capacity that we have every single day. The more small choices we make, the less effective we will be at making big ones. Decision fatigue also causes a phenomenon called ego depletion which wears down our willpower, making us more likely to do the things like eat unhealthy foods engage in dishonest behavior or cut corners on important tasks. This is the precise reason why people who have to make a lot of big decisions such as steve jobs or even Barack Obama have specified outfits that they wear depending on the day of the week or in steve's case, the same thing every single day. It's also the reason that Barack Obama never specified what he wanted to the white house kitchen. He just told them to surprise him every single day. Decision fatigue can certainly cost us a lot of time in and of itself, but it also raises an important question. Would you rather spend twice as much time, pick the perfect option and ultimately be only 60% happy with the outcome Or would you prefer to spend half as much time, choose the second or third best option but be 100% happy with your choice in some senses, ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to decision making. Now there are a few ways to avoid analysis, paralysis, time wasting, decision fatigue and ego depletion. One of them is to engineer automatic decision making rules based on external conditions. For example, I have three simple rules. When I sit down to a restaurant first, I dramatically reduce the number of options I'll even consider by ruling out anything with wheat grains or dairy according to my own dietary guidelines. Second I will look for one of two things that I particularly like. I mean if a restaurant has filet mignon, I will often automatically order it without even checking the rest of the menu. If they don't, I'll look for a grilled filet of salmon and order that. Now when I sit down to an indian restaurant, I almost always order chicken tikka masala or palak paneer. And if I'm at a chinese restaurant, I usually just go for broccoli beef and orange chicken with maybe chicken lo mein. If I've decided to spoil myself now, this might sound crazy to always order and eat the same thing wherever I go. But it saves a lot of hassle and in reality, these are dishes that I know I really enjoy. So unless I'm in a special restaurant known for a special dish, why waste my energy and risk getting a dish that I don't love when I used to drink wine. I used a pairing system that I had memorized based on what dish I was ordering. And then I'd ask the waitress or Somalia to choose a bottle of that specific type of wine for me based on my price range. I mean, let them make the decision right. These types of automatic rules can apply to all different kinds of conditions. You might have noticed that in the vast majority of videos I appear in I am wearing a black V neck T shirt just like this one. Well, guess what I have about eight of them and almost all of my pants match with them as well. You might not want to become so robotic as to plan an outfit for each day of the week. But what about choosing your shirts in the random order in which they are stacked in your closet and then having a matched pair of pants that goes with each one or better yet? How about only buying clothes in colors that match one another effectively you've chosen a matching outfit without making a single decision. Or how about setting up one or two nights a week where you don't have to think about what to cook or eat Mondays are usually pretty stressful so why not make every single monday fajita night? The next strategy is maybe a little bit morally questionable, but it's basically to offload decisions on to other people. I don't always do this, but if I'm having a pretty busy and stressful week where I need my full mental capacity, I definitely am guilty of it. When I travel with friends who don't have similar optimization mentalities, I tell them at the beginning of the trip that I'm happy to go wherever they want to go, eat wherever they want to eat and do whatever they want to do unless I say otherwise I'm on vacation. So why should I make any choices when I go out to dinner with friends? I play the nice, flexible friend and I asked them to recommend a favorite restaurant in their area that's convenient for them and tell me what time to meet them there when choosing a movie to watch. Well I think you get the idea. It's important to note that I don't reply with, I don't know what do you want to do? Like that scene from the Jungle Book Instead, I asked for a recommendation and let the other person understand that I want them to be happy with the final outcome. Above all. Why don't you pick somewhere you like or how about you choose a movie that you've been meaning to see if other people don't know about the paradox of choice and the outcomes are more important to them than being happy with the choice. Well, it's a great opportunity for you to skip making a decision and look like a friendly and easygoing person. Besides everyone loves spending time with people who go with the flow and put other people's preferences first, even if they don't necessarily understand why. And of course when it does matter to you, you can always make your opinion heard on the things that are actually worth making a decision on The last and possibly most important strategy for optimizing decision making is to limit your choices. It is very easy when you're looking for a solution to research 10 or more different options. But in fact you should really limit decisions 3-5 options right off the bat. The more possible variables and options that you throw into the mix, the more unhappy you'll be and the more time that you'll waste. For this reason you can use different strategies such as only looking at the specials menu, only scrolling through one page of movies or only purchasing a category of products from one specific brand. For example, I've decided that I only shop at under armor for my workout gear and even there since there are so many options, I usually only shop in the special section of their website. If I were to also shop at Reebok, Nike, Adidas and puma, I would add way too many extra options that make the process way too difficult. So while sometimes people at the gym teased me for having under armor, head to toe. I'm saving lots of time and decision fatigue by just purchasing whatever is available at the under armor store when I need new gear. And I'm always happy with my decisions because I don't know what kinds of new stuff I'm missing out at from Nike and I don't really need to know either. Finally, and this is an important one. Once you make a decision, there's no looking back. If you look at the origin of the word decision, it means to eliminate all other options. So if after making a decision, you go back and check if you made the right decision, you are not only wasting time, You are also setting yourself up for heartbreak. Once you've made a decision, don't reverse that decision. All other options are closed. If you decided last night that you'd wake up early and go to the gym, don't waste your energy renegotiating that decision. When the alarm clock goes off. You already made this decision. If you decided that you're not going to eat junk food this week, don't go back on that decision when you walk by a pizzeria and if you've already chosen from the 1000 different models of digital cameras, don't waste your time by looking at the other options next month, when a new model comes out, no good can possibly come of it by carefully addressing and limiting the amount of decision making and deliberation we have to do. We can not only save time but save a lot of mental energy and capacity which has plenty of awesome effects on our performance and our efficiency in many other aspects of our life. Now give this a try and check out the ted talk and book on the paradox of choice in the supplementary materials