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10 Apr

Minimize the number of choices

Datum: 2013-04-10 15:59

Dur­ing an ordi­nary day we are faced with a num­ber of choices. 

  • Where should I put this par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ment so that I can find it eas­i­ly later?”
  • What is my next step?”
  • Should I call or e‑mail the client?”
  • I haven’t heard from X in a few weeks, is it time to give him a call or will he think that I am pushy if I do?”
  • We need back­up in the next few weeks to come. Who should we ask for assistance?”
  • Where do you want to have lunch today?”
  • Who needs to attend the meeting?”
  • Do you want a receipt?” 
  • Deb­it or credit?”
  • Which e‑mail should I respond to first?”

Every choice we need to make demands our atten­tion and ener­gy. We can­not think about one thing and make a con­scious choice about some­thing else simultaneously. 

Nat­u­ral­ly, the choic­es crit­i­cal to our busi­ness are of greater impor­tance to us, but most of the choic­es we are faced with con­cerns rather triv­ial mat­ters. We might even con­sid­er the sheer num­ber of choic­es we con­tin­u­ous­ly need to make as dis­trac­tions, direct­ing our atten­tion away from the work we do in the busi­ness’ most impor­tant facets. 

Decrease and expe­ri­ence an increase

If you are seek­ing to find a smoother way through your work­day, decrease the num­ber of choic­es you are faced with dur­ing a day. That is to say, remove as many choic­es as you pos­si­bly can that are not of any real impor­tance to you anyway. 

This way you will have longer peri­ods of time when you are not inter­rupt­ed by for instance hav­ing to make a choice. And you no longer have to waste valu­able time on eval­u­at­ing options con­cern­ing irrel­e­vant and triv­ial choices. 

Try doing this

  • Store doc­u­ments in only a few dif­fer­ent places.
  • Choose and decide to use a sin­gle sav­ing every­thing in the cloud”-service and resolve to use only this one. Sure, go ahead and try the new ser­vices you hear of, but only use one at a time for the major­i­ty of your documents. 
  • Reduce the amount of noise” so that you only see a small por­tion of what you are doing at the moment:
    • Fil­ter your e‑mail accord­ing to 
      • When the e‑mail arrived
      • Who the sender is
      • What sub­ject the e‑mail con­cerns (search for keywords)

    • Fil­ter your to-do-list by

      • Project
      • The amount of time the task will require
      • Con­text
      • When it needs to be done
  • Receive rec­om­men­da­tions with open arms and let some­one else choose for you. Ask the wait­er what his favorite dish is, lis­ten to the Spo­ti­fy-playlists you find in blogs while work­ing, ask the hotel recep­tion­ist what you mustn’t miss when in town. 

  • Become a reg­u­lar cus­tomer so that your sup­pli­er knows exact­ly how you want your orders, and so that you in the end bare­ly have to place the order at all.

  • Decide what brand, mod­el and size you pre­fer when it comes to a prod­uct you fre­quent­ly use and order only this every time you order it (and for as long as you are still hap­py with the product).

  • Map out your most fre­quent process­es, decide how you want them to flow from now on and doc­u­ment them, hence mak­ing them acces­si­ble and avail­able (for instance in the form of check­lists). Doing this will rid you of the nui­sance of hav­ing to think a process through and make choic­es every time you do it. Instead you can lean back and depend on the process that you have at some point thought through and doc­u­ment­ed thoroughly. 

Have less (choic­es) and reduce your mess

If you reduce the num­ber of choic­es you need to make in a day, you will be able to con­cen­trate on what you need and want to put your ener­gy into. You will not be dis­tract­ed and will expe­ri­ence a bet­ter work-flow. If you after a while should want more vari­a­tion, sim­ply start mak­ing more choic­es again. 

What’s your way?

How do you min­i­mize the num­ber of insignif­i­cant choic­es? Write a com­ment to let me know.