Let us say you are faced with the possibility to make a decision which will affect your business, the project you are running or your job. You hesitate and decide to wait and see, and postpone your final decision. “Perhaps things will be clearer in the fall.” When you are halfway through the fall, you think “well, it will soon be Christmas”, so you choose to wait until New Years to make up your mind. At that point you will have better a perspective on how the new year will unfold.
Time passes and for every day you postpone making the decision, you are missing out on the new opportunities the decision would lead to.
Few things are as inefficient as not making up your mind at all.
It need not be a “yes”. A “no” can lead to new opportunities as well.
What matters is that you make the decision at all, since by now, it is definitely “crunch time”.
“Buridan’s ass” (Being in between two bundles of hay)
Efficiency is about achieving what we want in our business, our project or our job as easily as possible. We want to move on and get things done. If we do not make decisions, the area concerned will be kept floating; it will come to a halt and remain in limbo. We are left standing like Buridan’s ass, like a donkey in between two bundles of hay, unable to make a decision.
Getting out of limbo does not need to be about saying yes or no, but can also be about determining that you need more information. So go get it. Don’t just wait for the decision to become ripe or easier to make. Sure, hypothetically, it could, if something occurs which accidentally provides you with the missing information, but if you get in control over the situation and get the information you need, you will be able to make the call faster and thereby move on in the area which the decision concerns. If you hesitate, get more information, do not just wait for a better day to come along when you magically will see things clearer.
If you make the wrong call – do it over
It is natural to feel reluctant to make a decision – it tends to feel so final. But, very few decisions are irrevocable – most are possible to redo. It is not a shameful or bad thing to change your mind if you experience something which leads you to a different conclusion. If you have good structure, it is easier to remake your decision. You can for instance easily remake a certain material or a particular document, since it is easy to find the last version which you weren’t too happy about, come to think of it.
The Alfie Atkins-syndrome
Do you tend to think that you are “just going to do [that something] before I can [make a decision/do the next thing]”? If this is so, try thinking: “Do I really need to do this? What would happen if I did not do this first, but took action on the task right away?”.
When I catch myself thinking that I am “just going to do this first…”, usually it isn’t actually necessary to do what I tell myself I need to do before I can get to the actual task. It’s as if once I have told myself that this or that needs to be done first, I tend to stick to it obstinately, instead of just changing my mind. Until now.
- Take out your project-overview with all your larger commitments listed
- With regards to the items which are currently in limbo, make a decision. You have three, and only three, options:
- I need more information, meaning “How/what/when/who…” and what I am going to do right now to get this information is to “…”.
- If you choose option c, do what you have defined as the next task right away or add it to your to-do-list
And the result will be this
You will feel and be freer, both literally and figuratively speaking. Your stride will hereon after be a little smoother and with a bounce in your step. What amazing opportunities your final decisions will lead to, neither you nor I can know, but that these new opportunities will show themselves, is an undisputable fact.
How do you do it?
What is your way of keeping track of the decisions you need to make and making sure you don’t procrastinate making them for no good reason?
Feel free to leave a comment below.