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Six ways to make better decisions

I have been thinking a lot about how to help the women who run their businesses and need my help. Whether they’re paying to work with me or follow my advice for free, the way I see it we often similarly face the day. Our days require us to make so many decisions, whether we are parents or caregivers or lead busy lives in other ways. So, when it comes to running our businesses, where we yet again have to find ways to make better decisions about where to place our priorities, we are frankly exhausted and desperately wish it was simpler.

So, this got me thinking: how do I actively help reduce that intense daily decision-making in my life and business? Most people I know just want to get to taking action and/or they get overwhelmed by the intricate plans they make. This is even more overwhelming if you’re neurodivergent.

In addition to all the decisions we have to make, we equate that with risk and we actually do want risk-free lives when it comes to everyday living because we do not want to fight for survival but actually thrive in our circumstances. When we reduce the number of decisions, we reduce the risk, and then we feel more inspired to take action.

Simply put we have something called decision fatigue. This leads to demotivation which leads to doing things the way we have always done them and going around in circles frustrated because we are getting the same results: nada.

So how do we reduce the decisions when it comes to running our business?

NICE VS NEED

One technique I love to use is NICE to do and NEED to do. It’s as simple as it sounds. NICE to do is those things that make you feel good, that give you that dopamine hit with the sense of satisfaction. NEED to do tend to be the tasks we put off, but are necessary for the business to function like marketing, accounting, or nailing the tech stuff. This technique is perfect for day-to-day tasks. I ask my Visible Vibes members every Monday what their NICE and NEED tasks are that week which helps them stay accountable and we can cheer each other on.

INVESTING IN NEW IDEAS

But what about making decisions when it comes to Shiny Object Syndrome? When a new course, coach or software is floated in front of you and you get that niggle in your brain. How do you make a decision then? We like to think that we will rely on logic, rationality and reason, but we buy far more based on emotion than we might realise. We don’t actually make decisions based on price but on value. So we need to create a process; to give us pause before making that purchase.

A process outline could be simple and look like:

  • Why do I want this in my life at this time?
  • How do I feel when I read the information about it?
  • What is required of me once I buy it?
  • What are the expectations I’m putting on this course, coach or software?
  • What are the expectations I’m putting on myself if I buy? What am I willing to sacrifice to meet those expectations?
  • Are there other ways of fixing the problem this thing is offering?

SOFT PLANNING

Another technique that helps support me in making decisions is planning ahead. I can’t plan every step – I’ve tried and I feel claustrophobic by the plan I have made (partly because I am neurodivergent) – but I can sketch out roughly in a way that I dub “soft planning”. This includes noticing which times of day I’m stronger than others with certain tasks. I’m not good at Big Thinking after lunch and whilst I love doing the basic admin first thing because I get the dopamine hit, it’s actually not the best time of day for me to do this, and I get far more satisfying work done if I save it until the afternoon. I’m best at monotonous work later in the day, when I feel sluggish and bored.

Similarly, there are days of the week when I notice my energy fluctuates, so I do big thinking on Mondays and Tuesdays, teach on Wednesdays and Thursdays and try not to work on Fridays where I head off to volunteer or do life admin away from my desk.

Something I’m trying to do more of is notice where in my cycle I am in the month so I can look at my energy fluctuating that way too and not give myself a hard time if I am not creative in the fourth week of my cycle when my brain is taken over by the need to rest. You can learn more about cyclical living in my podcast with Amy Miller here.

CREATING TEMPLATES & PROCESSES

I have templates & processes for absolutely everything I do in Google Docs which massively helps me reduce the brain capacity taken up by remembering these things otherwise. This in turn makes me feel more creative and flexible which my brain enjoys. It also means I don’t have to make decisions on how to do everything I want to do in a day because the decisions have been made for me by Past Maddy who is wise and hasn’t put herself under immense pressure trying to make decisions in the moment.

TAKING GOOD CARE

It’s all very well me saying that we need to eat well, sleep well, manage stress and develop healthy habits to help reduce decisions but to me that sounds like a LOT of decisions need to be made to get to a place where you feel satisfied and motivated to meet those huge expectations in yourself. I find it far more helpful to reduce this into smaller takes which I put into the same task list as my work tasks – watering my plants (WEEKLY), drinking plenty of water (DAILY), going to yoga (WEEKLY), getting up to stretch (as much as possible) and even tidying my home because when I have a tidy workspace I am more creative and happy and less stressed. To learn more about healthy habits whilst working at a computer, read my most popular blog ever here.

RECOGNISE YOUR GOOD DECISIONS

It is well documented that as women we do not recognise what’s good, only what needs fixing. We have been told time and time again that we are inherently bad and do not know enough to make good decisions. But actually, we make good decisions every day. We need to recognise our good decisions so that we can do more of them. This isn’t positive thinking, this is looking for evidence and facts in the midst of a sea of emotions. Setting mini-milestones in any project will always help you move forward more easily.

I hope these pointers support you in making decisions going forward whether that’s in work or in other areas of your life. Come and tell me on Instagram if you found this helpful, I’d love to connect there.

Maddy x

Maddy x
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Maddy Shine - Visibility Expert