Tips to make Smarter Decisions Faster
Stick to your mission.
In a startup especially, it is vital that every big decision you make is within the scope of your mission. You don’t have the mental or physical resources to spread your net too wide and still succeed. So always ask yourself which option best moves you toward your mission’s goal, and then the choice should be simple.
Set a time limit
Give yourself a timer that helps you focus on the decision rather than having your mind wander and get distracted. With the pressure of a time limit, you’ll need to get to the heart of the matter faster and collect the pros and cons quickly, which you might not otherwise do.
Avoid decision fatigue
Decision fatigue saps focus and reduces mental energy. Hundreds of trivial daily decisions degrade our ability to focus. I try to systematize small decisions so I don’t have to sweat the small stuff—task lists and mindful habit cultivation are key. When an important decision needs making, I’m ready to give my full attention.
Control what you can control
At some point, a leader has to wear multiple hats until they have a team to offload responsibility. It’s important to focus on what is in your direct control. Worrying about things outside of your control will result in delaying projects. The more you focus on what you can control, the quicker you will be at making big decisions.
Understand pattern recognition
Most of what we face each day is similar to other scenarios we have already experienced. By understanding this, it is possible to quickly map a range of previous experiences and their outcomes. Leverage those to arrive at the most viable decision for this case. Over time, as you continue making decisions, their speed and quality will improve.
Decide whether the decision can be reversed
Jeff Bezos said it best when he pointed out that there are two types of decisions: decisions you can take back and decisions you can’t. Keep this in mind while making decisions in order to move faster as an organization. If a decision can be taken back after it has been implemented, don’t waste time being indecisive. Decide, implement, evaluate and reiterate if necessary.
Make a daily decision quota
Commit to making a certain number of decisions per day. They can be small (Should I get coffee?) or big (Should I buy this company?), but the process is the same. If you keep track of how many decisions you make, you’ll start to make them faster and more often.
Use the common-sense stress test
After running through a basic cost-benefit analysis, I call one—not five—of my smart friends in a different field who can zoom out and trim the fat off that analysis. As a company with academic roots, some of our team early on had been prone to consulting every conceivable “expert” for weeks or months without action.
Startups win by speed, not clairvoyance. When you’re trying to do something new, you won’t have 100 percent of the information you think you need; there aren’t always industry reports or best practices to adhere to, so accept that you will be wrong 25 percent of the time and try to make as many decisions as possible, followed by execution.
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