We all have decisions to make. Sometimes they are easy, and sometimes they can be really difficult. All too often we put them off…for more time, for more information, for more courage. Elizabeth Grace Saunders provides a useful framework for speeding your decision-making in this Fast Company article.

She begins the article by identifying what she terms “the basics.”

  • Book time to think. Block it on your calendar. Decision-making is as much work as the other tasks you set aside time to do.
  • Define the decision. What are the key factors that will go into your decision, and what are those that will be affected by it?
  • Think through the options. Don’t make it a “yes/no” choice. What are other perspectives, approaches, possibilities?

Once you have the basics in place, Saunders offers five tactics to help speed decision-making. (Use those that fit your situation and personality; you don’t need to use all five.)

  1. Fall back on your values. Do any of the options you are considering violate your values? If so, remove them from the mix.
  2. Talk it through. If you are a verbal processor, this may be a strong option for you. According to the author, the person you are talking it through with doesn’t need to be an expert in what you are addressing. The very act of talking it through can help bring clarity to your decision.
  3. Ask for perspective. Sometimes you do need advice, or help seeing things from a different point of view.
  4. Test it out. Some decisions can be tested in advance.
  5. Listen to your hopes. “When you’re really struggling with a decision, it’s often because your mind thinks one thing is practical while your heart wants something else. Pay attention to what you hope will happen.”

In my own decision-making, I have one additional tactic that I often apply. I ask myself, “If I were able to remove all of the obstacles, what would I do?” Then I consider whether those obstacles are real, or are my own limiting beliefs. And, in either case, I evaluate what would be required to remove them.