5 Ways to Make Better, Faster Decisions
Time to listen to your gut.
The ability to make good decisions quickly is key, whether you’re a seasoned leader or an entry-level employee. It’s a skill that inspires confidence in your abilities and leads to success. Shelley Row, an expert in efficient decision-making, says the secret is listening to your intuition while incorporating facts, a combination she calls “infotuition.” “Infotuition is a practical leadership tool,” she explains. “It’s a skilled, self-aware, decision-making approach—not a willy-nilly use of the whim.” She shares her advice for listening to your gut, and making smarter decisions as a result.
The Skill Set: 5 Ways to Make Better, Faster Decisions
1. Consider intuition part of your intelligence
“We honor thinking, but tend to underplay (or even denigrate) feeling,” says Shelley. In reality, neuroscience shows that intuition is an essential part of thinking. “It’s as though your brain stores bits of your life experience in file folders, but the ones you rarely use are in dusty file cabinets in the back,” she explains. “Intuition—a nagging gut feeling—is information from one of those dusty file folders trying to get through. We have to let it in by quieting the loud, logical voice and attending to the quiet, wise voice in our heads.”
2. End your love affair with data
Or at least put it in perspective. “It is inherently backward-looking,” says Shelley. “If the future differs from the past, data must be viewed with caution.” It’s also subject to bias. “Methods of collection, analysis and interpretation provide opportunities for bias to creep in despite best intentions,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong. Data is an important thing; it’s just not the only thing.”
3. Gather information, then take a break
It’s not a coincidence that your best ideas occur to you when you’re in the shower or drifting off to sleep. “When we overwhelm ourselves with activity—and who doesn’t?—the brain can’t put all the pieces together, it just gets tired,” Shelley explains. “When faced with a complex decision, review the data, gather input from the right people, particularly those with differing opinions, then take a brain break, something that distracts the mind and lets it wander. The brain continues to work on the problem during the downtime, allowing it to pick up subtle signals from the dusty file folders.”
4. Watch out for overthinking
Shelley advises looking out for these phrases: “We’ve been over this again and again,” “This is taking waaay too long” and “We’re making this harder than it has to be.” They’re key indicators that you and your team are overthinking the problem. “When this happens,” advises Shelley, “take a step back and notice the nagging feeling that holds you back.”
5. Explore your gut feelings
Ask yourself, “What’s bugging me?” or “What’s not sitting right?” Shelley explains that these questions coax the brain to identify the underlying gut feel, and that it usually points to either fear or insight. If it’s fear, she suggests talking yourself through it, by asking yourself, “What am I afraid of?” “What would happen if I let go of that fear?” “What would I be freed up to do?” If it's not fear, it may be insight, which Shelley defines as, “some part of your experience that wants to weigh in on the decision.”
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