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Issue #13: The Art of Making a Decision


James Costa

June 6 · Issue #13 · View online

A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

Yesterday while having brunch with a friend of mine who is also a small business owner, she remarked at how some days decisions are harder to make than others. After a morning of a million small decisions getting her kids ready for school and herself for work, it can be hard to be effective. By the time she gets to work, that mental exhaustion has a massive impact on her ability to hit the ground running.
What’s interesting is that a lot of very successful leaders will have a minimalist wardrobe for this reason: if they can reduce the amount of decisions they make even at the simplest level, they believe they’re able to improve their ability to make decisions during the day. Hell, a couple people joked about a new clothing line at H&M that solved this problem (and yes, I actually looked for a “buy now” button).
The concept of decision fatigue has been around for a while, and has a lot of thought behind it that I think is important to reflect on given the amount of decisions we make in a day. Quoting from Wikipedia, decision fatigue has 4 major effects (some of these might sound eerily familiar):
  1. Reduced ability to make trade-offs
  2. Decision avoidance
  3. Impulse purchasing
  4. Impaired self-regulation
On a daily basis I believe we have a certain amount of decisions we can make effectively (both small and large). This number is impacted by other factors (amount of sleep, glucose levels, etc), and reduced by both personal matters (kids, family, etc) and everyday decisions (what to wear, what to pack for lunch, whether or not you have enough time to make the bed before leaving the house). Some of these we can make changes to affect (i.e. planning lunches in advance), some of them we can’t (i.e. a raccoon knocking over your compost bin). But all in all, we should find ways to improve our ability to make decisions.
For myself, I know certain days I’m on a roll and I try to go with it. I don’t try and force decisions when I don’t need to, but when I know things are moving well, I try and make as many decisions as I can. I also tend to try and hold my breath when making decisions in a fast-paced manner, and time-block myself. Keeping a high momentum when making decisions is important, and I’m a true believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (believe in your instincts, grasshopper). Often, my most effective time for making decisions is in the morning, which is why I devised my plan to wake up earlier (which, between you and me, has been squashed as of late with all of life’s changes) and found a significant amount of success in doing so.
As well, I’ve worked really hard to delegate the decision making in the company to others and continually challenge my team to make decisions themselves. While this creates a sense of ownership and responsibility in each team member, it also means that I don’t have to be brought in for every discussion, or am being brought in to decide between a limited amount of options. Understanding where and when you can most effectively make a decision is incredibly important (in no way should this ever be “always”), and making sure the people around you understand that is even more so.
So, to summate, here are some key takeaways to reduce your decision fatigue:
  1. Reflect on what daily decisions you make that you can avoid
  2. Time block yourself
  3. Keep the momentum high (trust your instincts!)
  4. Think about when you’re most effective at making decisions, and try to carve away that time
  5. Delegate decisions to others
  6. Understand what decisions are most important for you to make
  7. Reduce the amount of options you’re deciding on
Here’s to making some kick-ass decisions this week! 🍻
P.S.: If you have a moment and enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing this newsletter. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or changing your wifi password to the URL of this week’s article, it would mean the world to me.

Good Reads
Have More Meetings (But Keep Them Short)
Our biggest blindspots as CEOs
Organizing an Agency by Teams
Thoughts on Building Weatherproof Companies
How one founder's $5 million risk paid off
Inspiration for the Week
“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” — Sr. Thomas Watson
In Closing
This past weekend I made the leap and bought a Nest thermostat and a few of their smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors. Slowly my dream of building an IoT house of the future is coming together. While seamless, sometimes I imagine it looking like a Rube Goldberg machine.
If you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email.
Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?
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