Ep. 110 – 1 Decision That Removes 100

The past few episodes have focused on the science, psychology, and daily dilemmas of decisions. Today, I want to share a tactic that can be helpful when you’ve decided on a decision. 

I was reminded of this decision framing (and the subsequent tool) when I was listening to a recent podcast from Tim Ferris. He just marked 10 years of podcasting (I only have 8 more to go) and is re-playing segments from previous guests. 

One snippet was a conversation that he was having with business author Jim Collins, he in turn was sharing a lesson he took from management theorist Peter Drucker, so advice on top of advice, which was essentially this: Don’t make a hundred decisions when one will do. 

I’ll outline some examples of that today as a call-to-less-action for us as we look at the to-do’s that never seem to get done or don’t get done consistently. 

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that a single, time-boxed choice can remove the many mini decisions of when to do the what. 

There are two parts to this tactic: One is to make a fine line choice. This means a decision that is a simple yes or no; I will drink more water; I will go for a morning walk; I will not have any caffeine; I will not have any technology in the room at bedtime. All really good intentions. 

The second part, however, is to put a time-box on it – a decision deadline – that defines the time and the decision itself. Instead of, I’ll walk three mornings this week, the decision is now time stamped as: Every day this week, I will go for a morning walk. It’s no longer a daily decision.

The purpose of this is to enact the action of the decision and remove the nagging decisions of things like: should I walk now or after lunch, or maybe I should go after dinner since it looks like it might rain before then, etc. Well I didn’t get to it today, so I guess I’ll just do my walk on Saturday. That might sound familiar to a lot of us. 

So taking this tactic further you might add an additional time stamp to it as the ‘done-by’ time. This becomes, I will walk every morning at 8 a.m. That removes the option of: Is today the day I am going to walk? And makes it one decision for the next seven days of the week with a done-by deadline. You could see this in things like: I will drink 32 ounces of water before 11 a.m.

There are a lot of ways this might show up in your life. The point is you show up in your life because you made the decision. The other benefit is that once the one decision is made, you release your brain from negotiating against the next 100 decisions. 

And for the do-not’s, like not having caffeine, it takes away the micro excuses. No caffeine today is a finite decision (the first one you made) vs. we’ll there’s caffeine in the tea but it’s less than in coffee so I didn’t technically have a lot of caffeine, so it still counts. We go back and forth so much more than we realize. 

Making a decision categorically and completely is the one tactic that saves you from the waning willpower of the day or days ahead. 

Start today with a decision with a timestamp–just for today. What is within reach for you to do or not do just in this day?

Try taking that to consecutive days, maybe something that you will do or not do over the weekend, with that time stamp. Or plan ahead for a stretch of time and see where commitment and consistency intersect more easily for you. And do you feel the lightness from your brain once it already has a decision made? 

Yes or no seem simple on the surface but it’s really easy for it to get diluted as the days go by. And as part of our fewer things better nudges, pay attention to what you resist committing to. That might reveal more about the intention behind the decision that might be leading to the inaction of it. 

That’s it. The full time tactic to try as you’re seeking to improve your decision making. You don’t need more details or data from me. You don’t need the science or psychology. This is a do or don’t.

And while deciding on one decision might save you from 100 other decisions, it will also likely save you from that inner dialogue and debate with yourself. And there’s always room for less of that in our life. 

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.