Don’t Overthink It: 5 Tips for Daily Decision-Making

All other career wisdom aside, one fact remains indisputable – productivity improves with better decision-making. Although there are no universal rules-of-thumb to help professionals make better decisions, Jocelyn K. Glei of 99u offers five insights to help us develop our determinations.

Five Optimal Insights

  1. “Satisficers” vs. maximizing
  2. The “best” criteria
  3. Strategic vs. expert
  4. Experience of others
  5. Tricked by the trivial

Satisficing decision-makers tend to exit the decision-making process as soon as their criteria are met. Does such-and-such an item satisfy X, Y, and Z? If the answer is “yes,” they move on. By contrast, the maximizing decision-maker will find their criteria satisfied but then continue to obsess until all options are exhausted and an optimal decision is discovered. Incidentally, the satisficers actually tend to be happier, because they do not overly stress themselves considering too much information. Another insight Glei shares is that, in decision-making, there is often one piece of information that outweighs the others in importance, thus rendering the rest of the information mostly irrelevant. Focusing on that “best” information allows us to make correct decisions much faster.

Of the three types of intuition identified by William Duggan, two of them, the “strategic” and the “expert,” do not work like ordinary intuition, which is literally just a feeling in the moment. A Strategic intuition is a flash of insight that solves a longstanding problem that was previously not understood. Expert intuition is the sudden recognition of a pattern based on past experience that helps us improve our efficiency. Ultimately, intuition is only as good as the situation you’re in. For new situations, it’s best to take it slow, relying on strategic intuition. In familiar situations, you’ll want to rely on expert intuition which can boost your speed and efficiency.

And speaking of experience, researcher Daniel Gilbert finds that we can make up for our own lack of experience simply by asking for advice from someone who knows better. The experiences of another are as valuable as your own. Lastly, trivial decisions can sometimes be overemphasized – especially on the store room shelf. When too many options appear regarding a particular item, we’re tricked into believing the item is more significant than it actually is. Take care to minimize the time you spend making trivial decisions.

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