How to become a better decision-maker

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg once wrote that a key element of efficiency in business was knowing what needed to be achieved: “We try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting — are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”

I think that is a crucial lesson for all businesses; know your end-goal and don’t overthink or overanalyse.

The ability to make fast decisions is important for any business owner, but it’s not necessarily an easy skill to master – especially when you’re personally invested in every aspect of your company.

Even when a decision is relatively minor, people can get caught up looking for the perfect choice, rather than simply finding the best one and committing to it.

As decisions get bigger and the effects of them become more long term, it can become increasingly difficult to make that call and many people get stuck running “what if” scenarios through their heads.

Being able to stop procrastinating and make good choices will play a big part in how productive you and your business are. So here are my three tips for how to be a better decision-maker:

1. Do your homework, but don’t seek perfection.

When you draw up a list of pros and cons, inevitably there are items in each column.

There is very rarely a perfect decision, so if you’re looking for one, you could be searching for a long time!

By all means, have that list. Do your research, speak to the right people until you properly understand the benefits and drawbacks, but always be prepared to make the best choice – not the perfect one.

2. Take emotion out of the equation.

Decisions should be made on facts as much as (if not more than) feelings. There are, of course, cases when you will let your gut lead you, but for the most part, allowing emotion to take over can push logic out the door.

Before making bigger decisions, it’s worth getting some breathing space – focus on something else for a while, or switch off entirely – to ensure your head is clear when you make up your mind.

3. Stop procrastinating!

There are times when delaying a decision is necessary, but if you continually avoid making choices – because you don’t have 100% control over the outcome, or you’re waiting for a risk-free scenario – you’re very likely to do your business more harm than good.

Going over and over the same problem won’t necessarily make the answer any clearer, and can ultimately cause more anxiety and confusion. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and make a call.

As Richard Branson once said: “As long as you don’t make the same mistake twice, just make a decision and go for it.”

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