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Beating indecisiveness in small decisions

In a week, how long does it take you to decide:

-        What to eat?

-        What to watch on Netflix?

-        What to wear?




Studies show that it takes the average person  

  • 150 minutes a week to decide what to eat

  • 50 minutes a week to decide what to watch on Netflix

  • 90 to 115 minutes a week to decide what to wear


That’s because our lives have evolved to contain many options. And while having a small number of options is great, a large number overloads our brains and makes it difficult to decide. This is the paradox of choice: more choice, more anxiety.

 

This also means that if you’re like most people, you’re spending 250 to 275 hours per year on choosing what to eat, watch, wear.

 

That’s a lot of time spent on repeated decisions that seem to have such a low impact in the grand scheme of things. After all, how much will it matter in a year from now if on July 21st 2023 you watched a movie you didn’t really like? Would you even remember it in a month from now? Or a week?

 

What’s more, the time you take agonizing over your choice is time that you could be spending doing other things. For example, if you’re choosing from a restaurant menu you could use the time to speak to the person you’re dining with. Or just relax.


3 tools to speed up low impact, repeated decisions

 

Experimentation mindset. Set your criteria and then allow yourself the space to experiment. For example, the first time you order from a new restaurant, look at the options that align with your criteria (e.g., low carb or vegan) and pick one fast. If you’re not satisfied, you’ll pick a different one next time. Experimentation is key to learning yourself better while exploring what’s out there. It helps you build a healthier relationship with uncertainty, an inevitable part of life. Importantly, it will save you a lot of time from analysis paralysis.

 

Menu strategy. For any decision, dedicate time for sorting the world into things you like and things you don’t like. Like dinner options on a restaurant menu. But after that, go fast and pick ANY ONE of those things that you like. This way, you spend your time on the initial sorting but you save time on the picking, repeatedly.

 

The “only option” test. Sometimes we’re not feeling adventurous (experimentation mindset) and that’s ok. In that case, when confronted with many choices you can ask yourself the following: “If this were the only option I had, would I be happy with it?” If the answer is yes then you might as well stop overanalyzing and make the choice.


Question for you


What is one low impact decision that you spent several minutes on today?

Do you think you could speed up that decision next time?

Which strategy will you apply first?


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