Short Guide To Lightening Fast Decision Making – 4 Ways To Take Quick Action (Part 1)


This is 16th chapter in the #ProductivityHacks series currently running on]

What would you do if you couldn’t fail?

Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician, who proposed in the 18th century that if doctors and nurses wash their hands before any medical operation or physical contact with the patient, then it can reduce germs intake and lessen the chances of puerperal fever, which resulted in a decrease of mortality rate of 10-40% at that time.

Seems an obvious decision, right? Wash your hands, and you save your patients.

But the medical community rejected this proposal as it clashed with their worldly views. Washing of hands during medical operations only started after he died and his theory was medically proved! It was one of the worst decisions ever taken in the medical history.

Another example of bad decision: You are in the middle of an intense, debate-fuelled meeting where a major decision has to be taken. You have presented all your facts and figures to your CEO and your inner self is confident that he will take a decision now, based on your facts and figures. Your spreadsheets and case-studies have been with your CEO for the past 7 days, and you are damn sure that the decision will be taken right now.

But all your CEO tells is, “I need more time”. And the day finishes.

Don’t get frustrated during such moments, because decision paralysis is a phenomenon which every entrepreneur, manager and business-man faces almost regularly. And this chapter is aimed towards making decision process easier.

We need to take thousands of decisions in a day: right from choosing which dress to wear to determining whether to take that call or not; whether to make that investment or not; choosing clients, choosing the right person and so on.

While we take a decision, there are mainly two factors which affect us: risks/rewards associated with that decision and our world-view and behavior at that time. If any one of these is clashed or seems confusing, we procrastinate and delay the decision.

It’s difficult talking a decision because there is an ownership attached with every decision you take. And when the time comes to take this ownership, your inner, prehistoric brain panics and you procrastinate. Every human being faces such times of ‘danger’ as it is perceived by our pre-historic part of brain which results in more delays and more procrastination.

Do remember the fact that saying ‘I need more time’ is also a type of decision. In fact, at every moment of time, you need to take a decision.

The decision to not take a decision is also a decision!

So, why not tackle it strategically and create a scenario where taking decisions is not a ‘dangerous’ and ‘time-taking’ activity?

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Here are 4 simple ways we can make decision making process simpler and easy:


Become a Consultant For Your Own self:

When a big decision ‘needs’ to be taken at any cost, and when the stakes are really high, we tend to get engulfed by our own emotional and rational fears. What if the decision goes wrong? We tend to waste time in collecting data and analyzing and over-analyzing them, thereby postponing the decision.

New York Times suggests a very simple way to overcome this: Pretend as if you are a consultant and suggesting the best possible solution to your own self. Or better, pretend that you are advising your friend on some important matter.

Once you pretend as if you are advising/consulting another person, then you are able to see the broader perspective of your decision, and the short-term emotional fear would vanish. Certainly it will take some time to master it, but, it works big time.

Refuse The Seduction of Data:

Human beings hate uncertainties of life; and to remove these uncertain, incomplete bits of life, we tend to hoard more and more data and information. And the current IT age of instant search results is fuelling this information appetite.

When we are confronted in taking a decision, then we start scanning this huge pile of data, and as we move more inside this data mining, we become more and more weak. Information-overload is in reality a term, which affects so many entrepreneurs and decision-makers that it will soon become a global epidemic.

Princeton and Stanford University psychologists did a fantastic experiment highlighting this major hindrance to decision making process. The experiment demonstrates that knowledge is not always power, and infact less knowledge and less information is often the best strategy for making faster decisions.

The psychologists concluded that in order to take faster decisions, limit the amount of information intake and take it light. Less information doesn’t always mean that the decision would be bad. The smart entrepreneurs don’t wait for the right decision… they take a decision and then make it right!

Challenge Your Beliefs & Reverse Your Assumptions

This is a kind of mind hack, which have become very popular among decision makers for its refreshingly easy ways. Whenever you are required to make a decision, challenge your world view and beliefs and just reverse your assumptions about the proposed action. Once you do that, you have literally came out of your comfort zone, and you are free to take whatever is the best decision for you, not the decision which seems safe.

For example, you are about to order a pizza and you are confused between cheese and onion. You know that until now, you have only loved cheese pizza, but for a second, come out of your comfort zone and assume that you love onion. Now accept the outcome and imagine that you in reality having onion pizza. This will trigger several hidden emotions and results in your brain which you would not have experienced before.

When life throws problems and issues for which you don’t have any answers, then the best way is to do the exact opposite of what you would have normally done and let your brain tackle it using it’s own imagination. You will be surprised at the number of options and ideas you can get by doing this.

Psychology Today suggests that you ask these three questions during such decision making process using this method:

  • List all your assumptions about your subject.
  • Reverse each assumption. What is its opposite?
  • Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal.

Spread It Out On A Sheet And Use Analytical Brain:

After word processor, spread sheets are the most divine invention for an entrepreneur and a decision maker. Spread sheets can help you see the problem and its solution in a 360 degree mode, which is not possible by writing it down or solving inside your brain.

Once you transform huge amounts of data and observations into a spread sheet, then something magical happens as you begin to see the ‘patterns’ involved, thereby helping you with lightening fast decision making process. Using spreadsheets is highly recommended for taking fast decision, without any hiccups.

Say you want to buy a new car; which can be a good test of your decision making process. You can use a spreadsheet (source: like this to actually input your data, and considerations and then compare them for making fast decision.

In the next part of this series, we will discuss how to take small and big decisions without any fuss.

Previous Chapters in “#ProductivityHacks For An Entrepreneur” Series

  1. Understanding Importance of Time
  2. The Morning Activities
  3. The Four Step Plan
  4. Creating; Managing & Optimizing Lists
  5. Mastering Art of Collecting Information
  6. The Science of Creating a Process Out of Chaos
  7. How To Complete A Project Successfully
  8. The 6 Stage Model of Reviewing Your Productivity
  9. How To Fool Our Mind To Boost Productivity
  10. Four Ways To Relax Your Mind To Boost Productivity
  11. Importance Of 80/20 Rule In Productivity
  12. 9 Steps To Streamline Your Focus
  13. Setting Your Priorities Right Everyday
  14. Conquering Your Limiting Factors – Ways To Identify & Kill Them For Better Productivity
  15. Divide & Rule: Psychological Productivity Hack Which Actually Works Magnificently!
  16. Get Up Early For Maximum Productivity – 4 Tips For Conquering The Alarm Clock

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