Every day, each of us is faced with myriad decisions. From the time one wakes up to the time one retires from a long day at work, everyone handles all sorts of concerns, including the most mundane matters and the most pressing of problems.

Simple matters such as what clothes to wear for work, what dressing to put on your salad, and which route to take when traveling to the office are some of the daily concerns that take up one’s decision-making energies.

In the workplace, the quality and timeliness of the decisions made are of the essence. The decisions that one may face at work range from which emails need immediate attention to who should be part of one’s feedback loop regarding an upcoming marketing campaign.

Excellent decision-making is a crucial skill one must acquire as part of their personal development. What are the habits one should have to become a better decision maker in the workplace? Read on to find out.

1) Gather all available information that is relevant

Good decision makers are highly inquisitive people. They tirelessly gather information from various sources (eg. books, online research, media interviews) and they make sure that these sources are authoritative before the information is used.

2) Commit to decide

Reliable decision makers make clear and firm decisions in a timely manner. They know that their prompt decision is crucial for the team to be able to execute different roles both individually and collectively.

3) Eliminate small decisions

Create preset solutions for small, everyday concerns like doing errands every lunch break or hitting the gym after work. Successful people do not sweat the small stuff and reserve their mental energies for a higher level of decision-making.

4) Focus on the positives

When assessing an issue, take time to frame it in a positive manner. Refocusing the issue will help you see it in a better light and thus, give you a better perspective when making a decision.

5) Let subconscious thinking take over

Tap into the power of your subconscious mind by ‘sleeping over’ a problem. Keep yourself busy with other activities while allowing your subconscious brain to work through the problem ‘in the background’.

6) Do mental debriefing

Develop the habit of examining the choices you make daily. At the end of the day, set aside 10 minutes to reflect on your mistakes and what you can do better the next day.

7) Challenge your beliefs and assumptions

Good decision makers challenge their assumptions. They step out of their comfort zones and talk to people with diverse opinions in order to widen their perspectives.

8) Examine how emotions affect your decisions

One should have a good awareness of their emotional state. If you are feeling dejected after receiving negative feedback from your superior on your work performance, this may affect your decision-making throughout the day. Therefore, it may be prudent to schedule a performance review and an important presentation or meeting on separate days.

9) Practise self-compassion

When faced with a tough decision, detach yourself from the situation and ask yourself: “What advice would I give to my colleague if they were going through this same problem?” This approach will help you gain perspective and allow you to be more objective about your situation.

10) Devote mornings to major decisions

Your mind is usually well-rested in the mornings; therefore, it would be wiser for you to tackle more complex problems during this time. You can set aside the latter part of the day, say late afternoons, for less critical decisions like operational tasks and weekly deliverables.

11) Adopt a set of criteria based on your personal values

A set of guiding questions can help you to make crucial decisions. Some of the factors to consider before taking a course of action are:

  • How will this decision benefit me?
  • How will it hurt me?
  • How will this benefit my team?
  • How will it hurt my team?
  • Does this decision reflect my values?
  • Will I regret making this decision?
  • Will I regret not making this decision?

As the work day progresses, one goes through what is known as ‘decision fatigue’. The quality of one’s decisions begins to erode because one’s store of mental energies is depleted.

Since our decision-making energies are finite, it is key that one knows how to apply these decision-making habits well and make optimal use of one’s mental resources. By being a prudent decision maker, one can also maximise use of company time and resources to contribute more effectively to the whole organisation.


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