Monday, August 29, 2011

Four Habits to Make Better Decisions

Photo by canopic

A recent New York Times article discusses research around "decision-fatigue" - the idea that we have a limited amount of mental energy with which to evaluate information and make decisions. The implications for leaders and managers are significant. Making good decisions requires us to manage this energy or we can easily find ourselves expending all of it in ways that don't help us accomplish our mission. Here are four habits to help manage your decision-making energy:

1) Conserve. Don't make decisions other people can (and should) make.

2) Develop people. Help others learn how to evaluate and make decisions.

3) Use a personal management system. Be sure you know what needs to be done and how it fits into the larger picture. There are many systems to choose from. David Allen's Getting Things Done and Stephen Covey's First Things First are both useful.

4) Renew. Provide yourself time to regain mental energy. This is more than just getting a good night's sleep (although that's a good start!). We can restore our decision-making energy by providing ourselves some time each day to simply think, meditate, pray, or contemplate. A good walk, a good book, or a peaceful cup of tea - these also help me renew. Find what works for you.

Of these four strategies, which one can provide the greatest benefit for you? How can you implement it today?

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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