Time Management

by Di McLanachan

Making decisions

If indecisiveness is one of your problems, you need to tackle it. There can be many reasons for indecision, some of which are listed below.

  • Learned behaviour: you may have grown up in an environment where people held back from making decisions, so this is normal for you.
  • Lack of confidence: perhaps you are unsure of yourself and your ability to make good decisions.
  • Unclear objectives: you have insufficient information to enable you to make a decision.
  • Risk averse: you avoid taking risks and will duck any decisions that may take you out of your comfort zone.
  • Disorganised working style/environment: you are surrounded by clutter. As a result, your mind becomes cluttered and you find it very hard to think clearly and decisively.
  • Easily influenced by others: if others have conflicting views and they are all able to influence you, you will tend to sit on the fence rather than favour one view over another.
  • Overwhelm: you have so much on your plate that your mind has gone into a state of inertia and you cannot think clearly. This can be a symptom of stress.
  • Choices: you have either too many choices (overwhelming) or too few (restricting).
  • Avoidance of unpleasant consequences: if your decisions could upset people, you avoid making them.
  • Weight of responsibility: you are under pressure to do the right thing and the weight of this responsibility is unwanted and unwelcome.

Successful people are decisive. They don’t always get it right, but they make a point of learning from poor decisions and use that knowledge to make better quality decisions in the future.

One simple technique for making decisions is to draw up a list of pros and cons. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns, heading one column with a plus sign and the other with a minus sign. List all the possible consequences of your decision, in whichever column is appropriate, and notice which column ends up with the most entries. If it is the plus column, the decision is a good one; however, if the minus column has more entries, look for an alternative decision and work through the exercise again. The act of working through this exercise on paper externalises the decision-making process and makes it much easier to take a detached, rational view

It is important to practise making decisions: the more you do this, the more you expand your comfort zone, the more confident you become and the more you open yourself up to new opportunities.

There are times when the decision-making process is being delayed because you have not yet solved the problem underlying the decision. Once the problem is solved, the decision on what to do next becomes easy. See the topic on Problem Solving.