I was the world's worst decision maker. Until I realized that my career and business suffered because of it, I was working more hours than ever before, and I felt like the decisions I made my situation even worse. I was making too many decisions in too short of a timeframe.
We've all seen CEOs who have adopted a uniform--the black turtleneck that Steve Jobs wore or Mark Zuckerberg's gray T-shirt--so they can limit the number of decisions they make every morning, but what we don't see are the thousands of tiny decisions that most entrepreneurs make every day.
Jeff recently explained during an interview that he's lucky to make three good decisions per day. From waffling back and forth about sending an email to trying to set up a "time that works best for you" to schedule a call, there are a plethora of decisions constantly draining the creative juices of the world's most successful people.Bezos
However, what about busy freelancers, consultants, and retail-based entrepreneurs? Anyone who's ever fallen into the categories mentioned above is likely raising their hand with bleary-eyes while holding a large latte.
So, why do busy people make more bad decisions than normal?
It's due to a little thing called decision fatigue, which means that as the day wears on, we are less and less capable of making well-thought-out decisions.
Making fewer decisions isn't just good for the Zuckerbergs of the world, it is good for everyone. Here are some ways you can stop making so many decisions during your day:
Start prioritizing morning decisions.
Jeff makes his hard decisions before noon.Bezos
This not only helps get his tough thinking out of the way, it also helps others move the ball forward during the afternoon hours in order to regroup with him the next morning.
We've all sent an eyes-half-shut middle of the night email, only to wake up tired to read a response the next day. By making decisions early in the day, Bezos has a full night beforehand to think about the response.
Don't feel bad about assigning work and decisions to other people.
The first time I had someone working closely with me as a direct report, I remember feeling bad about giving them something to do that was originally assigned to me.
After about two or three days of me trying to do it all myself, in order to not feel guilty, they approached my desk. "They aren't paying me to sit here, you know."
I was so worried about not giving them too much work that for almost half a week, I'd put off making a decision about what to delegate to them. So, I decided to just give them all the activities that I didn't feel were the best use of my time but still needed to get done. By the next week, I was three times more productive and was only focusing on the major tasks that I needed to do, where I could provide the most value.
Entrepreneurship isn't just a badge of hustle, contrary to what Instagram tells us. It is about working smarter and doing more with less, because at the end of the day, our time is our sanity.
Start having mini-calls. Every meeting doesn't need to be 30 minutes.
My phone calls with project managers, freelancers, and consultants are usually short. I talk to a lot of people each week, I don't need to ramble on during the call. Yes, I will chat about life and get progress reports on things aside from work. I'm not an automaton.
However, I respect everyone's time and know that sometimes a three-minute call is the best way to quickly get on the same page and move the ball forward. Drafting an email, coming up with a response, sending a text--that equates to 10 minutes. Then another round of emails proposes the idea for how to move forward, and then a final email volley assigns roles.
Instead, try to have an outcome in mind, and make quicker decisions with a phone call.
Lastly, not everything has to be an action item for you. Learn when you need to make a decision, and learn when it's better that someone makes the decision for you. It might just help you make better decisions to grow your business.