Decide to improve your decision-making

Your business is the collection of your decisions. It pays to learn how to do this right.

As an entrepreneur, you are the key decision maker of your business. Every day, new decisions will be put in front of you. Everything you do and what your business becomes is shaped by your decisions. So, it pays to learn how to do this well.

"Less is better. Don't let them linger. Prioritize the important and hard ones. Make them only once!"

[What to decide is a whole other story.]

Less is better

Is this good enough for my client? How should I go about delivering it? Does this font look right on my website? What should I charge for my services? Should I even offer this service, or tune it to something else? Should I be an entrepreneur at all?

You decide about the direction of your company, what to prioritize and how to organize yourself.

And that's on top of your personal life. Like everyone else, you've got to decide what's for dinner, where to live and whether or not to go for a run tonight because that new season of True Detective sure look tempting?

That's a lot. Making decisions is like working out. Your decision-making muscle gets tired. And when it's tired, you make shitty decisions.

Therefore not wasting that juice on inconsequential decisions is important.

Hence, the value in morning routines. Put your morning on auto-pilot and you don't waste your energy on breakfast. That's Steve Jobs' famous everyday jeans and black turtle-neck outfit. Set it and forget it.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.” ― W. H. Auden

A morning routine is like a standard, protocol or a script. That sounds very mechanical and soulless. You might want to be freer.

I'd call it a sign of being a pro. Because doing everything on the fly is an ineffective use of your attention.

It's a sign that you've figured out what the things are your business distinguishes itself on. What parts of your business require your taste, expertise, and attention. Not every part of your business has to be innovative and unique.

Can you make decisions today, that will reduce the amount you need to make tomorrow?

Slowly add to it. Build up the routines of your business and put more and more on autopilot.

When I draft a proposal, there are these 5 steps I'll go through before sending it out.

We only update each other during our daily standup.

Anyone can make a decision when they've checked in with someone who has expertise on it and someone who will be affected by it. Protocols that reduce your mental clutter.

Don't let decisions linger.

It's not just the moment of making a decision that drains your energy. It's the whole process leading up to it. You're standing still while experiencing a constant noise. It's like a fly that keeps following you along. Buzzing around your head. Distracting you. Infecting all your other thought processes.

You're living in two worlds. The one where you've decided. And the current world. Keeping up with both futures. Another ball to juggle.

This doubt is a waste of time and energy and will sabotage your execution! Or, quickly make the decision. Or, identify what you need to do/figure out in order to make it.

And, when you decide to postpone making the decision, actually park it. Decide on the next step to making a real decision. Decide on when you'll return to this.

[I wrote before about how to break through indecision by using one of these 18 reframes.]

Make hard decisions when fresh and calm.

Some decisions require calm and careful thinking. Where to focus on this quarter? How to pitch this big potential project? What's the maximum we're willing to pay for a house?

Hard decisions that are tempting to procrastinate on. But make these decisions when you're fresh. Because you want to make the most important ones in your peak state and not after wasting your energy on all the irrelevant ones. Plus, the most essential ones will make successive decisions easier.

Besides still being fresh, doing them first also makes it more likely that you make the decision in time. That you make them before it gets stressful. Quick, decide on your max bid for this house, the deadline is in 30 minutes! It only matters for the next 30 years... Recipe for disaster.

Make them once

Hold yourself to the decision you've just made. It's done. It was a gift from your old self with your best intention and wisdom in mind. Don't ruin that clarity by keeping the door open.

Making decisions over and over again only compounds the difficulty.

Some types of decision (like diet, type of work you want to focus on) will find a way to creep back in your life. Don't get tempted in the moment.

I have a nut allergy. There's a hard line. I won't eat it. I'm not tempted to get the dish that has them in it. I don't feel like I'm missing out. It's very easy to keep myself from eating it.

So, you might not have these '(in)conveniences'. But when you make a decision that's of the kind that isn't done well in moderation, draw a hard line. It's done. No exceptions. Connect it to your identity. You are the type of person that is ... One decision to remove a thousand future ones. One hard decision on the strategy of your business will make it all future considerations easy.

Weight the system in your favor

When making the decision, you can do some work to make sure you'll still follow through even when you don't feel like it in the moment.

Committing to a team sport makes it harder to cancel practice.

Hiding all remotes in the bedroom (and their batteries in the kitchen) and changing your Netflix password, make it harder to just fall on the couch and "chill".

In the evening, lay out your clothes in the evening, leave your computer with the right apps open (and the wrong ones closed), so you'll glide right into your desired behavior.

Put draconian measures in place and have RescueTime block all distractions before 11 am. And have someone else set up the master password. Someone you trust to give you a hard time when you ask for it.

And when it's important, put it in the calendar! A calendar item often holds more weight than a todo. Plan the things that you've decided are important in advance. Let the rest fill in the remaining time. Not the other way around.

Some final thoughts

  1. Decide on what gets to nullify the decision. What amount of time, what instance. Commit it to it and don't sway before that happens.

  2. Some things have a clear exception. That can be part of the decision. If this, then that.

  3. You might be able to get 5% more out of your process or product by customizing it for this one client. But by leaving the door open, you throw away the efficiency for all the others.

  4. Indecision is a conflict in values. When you're tempted to come back on your decision, it's because something that you consider important wants your attention (popularity, leisure, short term certainty). You need to decide what's more important.

Pick one

Is there a decision you've been putting off? Pick one. And do yourself the favor of making it.

Want help in making it, I wrote about 18 ways to reframe a decision in order to decide when you're stuck.

Thanks for reading!

I hope this helps you. If so, clapping along or sharing the article really helps others find it too. Both would be much appreciated!

Subscribe to me on Medium if you want to follow what I write.

A Calculator for your Hourly Rate

Often experience is the best teacher. And sometimes, there is a tool that can help you prevent unnecessary mistakes. Like this nifty calculator that helps you calculate what your hourly rate should be!

It shows you what your revenue needs to be to secure a monthly net income you desire. From here it calculates your needed hourly rate. Soon it’ll even compare your rate to your peers!

Download my Freelancer Hourly Rate Calculator here and see for yourself!