Community//

Decide Early and Often

Deciding early limits the decision fatigue that can lead to irritation, frustration, and poor decision-making.

In my piece on how to limit decision fatigue, we saw that decision fatigue leads to irritation, frustration, and generally poorer decision-making. I’d like to place the focus this piece on the individual leader’s ability to limit her own decision fatigue.

The simplest way to avoid the cumulative effects of decision fatigue is to decide early and often. 

Rather than letting the list of decisions pile up and become too convoluted, make a decision as soon as you can and move on, especially on the simple decisions.

For instance, if you already know what your decision is upon reading an email, go ahead and relay the decision and get it off your plate. It’s unlikely that your decision is going to change, or, if it’s a decision that will change, it’ll likely come from a constructive conversation that happens after you make your decision.

Strong visions and well-articulated strategies actually make it a lot easier for you to make the right spur-of-the-moment decisions because most of the major decisions have already been made. It’s when you have to make every decision on the fly that you get worn out; by not doing the thinking and deciding in a structured, constructive way ahead of time, you have to do a lot of thinking and deciding in a unstructured, often-destructive way in the spur of the moment.

Another practice that can help you decide early and often is to keep a list of all the more difficult decisions that need to be made and schedule time to make those decisions. Thirty minutes a day spent working through the key issues affecting your business is the best thirty minutes you can spend since it’s often the case that no one else can make those decisions. If you’re not making the decisions that only you can make, no one is, and if they are the crucial issues that are facing your business, you’ll eventually be forced to make a suboptimal decision down the line.

There’s a big difference between a hasty decision and a decision that’s made promptly. I’m not advocating hasty decision-making, but, rather, proactively and promptly addressing the challenges you face in your business. The sooner you come to a solution or resolution, the sooner it can be solved or resolved.

As part of making decisions early and often, you’ll need to be prepared to make bad decisions. You might think that spending more time making the decision will help, but in reality, more data and time (past a certain point) usually make it harder to make a decision. Chronically not deciding is a worse decision than occasionally being wrong.

But not only will you be able to work the resolution or solution sooner, you’ll also not face a pile of key decisions to be made and be able to limit decision fatigue. In the short-term, it may seem harder to decide early and often, but, in the long-term, it pays off in spades.

Decision making is the specific executive task. – Peter Drucker

If Drucker’s right, the more experience you get at making decisions, the better you’ll get at it, with the upshot that you’ll be a better executive through practice.

Over to you: what key decisions need to be made in your business? What information do you need or who do you need to talk to help make those decisions? Lastly, when are you going to make the decisions that need to be made?

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