How to Get Faster and Better at Making Decisions

Ever stop to consider the number of decisions you make in a day? Some are routine like reordering supplies. Others take more thought, like pricing a new product. And some carry heavy consequences if you’re wrong, like hiring a new employee. It’s no wonder your head hurts at the end of the day. That’s why it’s important to better manage your decision making. Here are some ideas to help you make better (and faster) decisions.

Get All the Facts First

Don’t be swayed by initial information, especially if it’s favorable. Dig deeper. Say you received a competitive bid for a new security system. Calculating the money you’ll save, you ignore negative ratings on the company’s website and sign-up anyway. Later, you discover their after-sale service was horrible. Don’t let initial facts prevent you from evaluating conflicting information.

Set a Time Limit

Decisions often have an expiration date. If you wait too long, the opportunity may have passed. One impediment to make timely decisions is analysis paralysis. You overevaluate information to the point where you freeze and take no action. Try setting a time limit based on the importance of a decision. Smaller decisions often carry a lesser consequence if you make the wrong choice. So allow a shorter timeframe to gather information before you decide. It won’t cost you much to change your decision, if you need to.

Clear Room for Bigger Decisions

You don’t have to make every decision, especially the routine ones. For example, reordering supplies could be handled by one of your more experienced employees. Some vendors allow you to set automatic reorder points based on your historical usage. By delegating smaller decisions, you clear more time in your day to tackle the big ones.

Remember, You Have a Plan

New opportunities come up all the time. But not every shiny new penny is right for your business. For example, suppose you got a great deal on a yogurt maker and decide to offer it as a new dessert in your restaurant, Taste of Italy. Turns out, there’s not much demand among your customers for garlic yogurt. Your big savings is eaten away by lack of demand. Consult your business plan to help you decide whether it’s a good fit for your target market and long-term strategy.

Check for Biases

It’s easy to gravitate to your comfort zone when making a decision. The problem with that is it can blind you to important information. Say you hired a new technician who graduated from the same school you did. Go Gophers! You knew the college no longer required students to pass their licensing exam before graduating. Now your liability policy won’t cover her until she does. Don’t let your biases inflate one piece of information at the expense of another. Let each stand on its own before making a decision.

Consult Your Lifeline

The popular game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, offers contestants the option to consult one of their lifelines before making a decision. Business owners can do the same by running a decision by a trusted colleague. Getting another’s perspective can help validate your choice or uncover an aspect you hadn’t considered. Some entrepreneurs use their staff to get feedback. That’s also a great way to develop talent within your company.

Be Prepared to Abandon Ship

Just because you made a decision doesn’t mean it’s final, especially when circumstances change. It’s important to monitor the return on your decision. If it’s diminishing, it may be time to abandon it and take a new direction. For instance, your free delivery service attracted great attention at first. But gas prices have risen and now you’re losing money on it. Maybe it’s time to amend your decision and require a minimum order size in order to get the free service.

Given the volume of decisions you make every day, there’s bound to be one that doesn’t exactly hit the mark. That’s OK, you can learn from those too. Focus on better managing your decision-making responsibilities by considering these ideas.

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