Let me guess: you’ve got a lot of decisions to make, but not enough time to make them properly. That’s a problem, because the only way you can keep up is to make more decisions, faster; which means you’re getting through the quantity by cutting back on the quality.
In our book that’s the quickest way to make a lot of bad decisions. Which is why we think the smart move is to reduce the quantity – by ignoring decisions you don’t have to make.
Most decisions are trivial, although we don’t always realise it at the time. Will I wear the red or the blue? Do I feel like Italian take away or Japanese? Become a republic or stay in the Commonwealth? I’ve seen people agonise over these kinds of decisions, despite the fact they just don’t matter. For God’s sake people, toss a coin.
A lot of big decisions are inevitable, even though we feel like we have a say in matter. Will we adapt our marketing to explore the possibilities of social media or leave that to our competitors? Will we rethink our business to become a player in a sustainable post-carbon economy or just pretend it’s not happening? Seriously, do we honestly think that history is waiting for our decision?
And an amazing number of decisions are reversible. Should we at least trial the new way to see if it works better, knowing that, if it doesn’t, we can just hit Ctrl Z and undo it? Can we give it a go and see what happens?
Between them, the trivial, the inevitable and the reversible make up the vast majority of decisions that clutter our minds, even though they really require no decision at all; just ignore the trivial, embrace the inevitable and give the reversible a try. Free your mind of these distractions and you’ll find the mental space to focus on issues that are important, evitable and non-reversible, the kind that actually need careful deliberation.
Should we genetically engineer crops, clone people, invade Iraq, invent a transformative new technology, bail out Greece, float the company, terraform Mars, immunise our kids? Shall I try skydiving? Will I get a tattoo? Should I have the surgery? Should I hit send?
When you think about it, we don’t face very many truly important, evitable and non-reversible decisions in our lives, but when we do, we need every ounce of brain power we can spare.
Which is why your first decision must always be: Is this even something I need to decide on?