Create a self-imposed deadline: any time you have to make a decision, just set a timer and begin the process.
If you're overwhelmed with choices, make the decision in multiple-passes, gradually weeding out bad options and narrowing down the number of options you need to explore further.
If all options seem to have roughly equal value, just pick one at random.
This reminds me of the Simpsons movie, where Arnold (the President) has to make a choice between three terrible outcomes, and he just immediately chooses '#3'.
Russ Cargill: Well, I've narrowed your choices down to five unthinkable options. Each will cause untold misery... [Russ shows five option blocks.] Arnold Schwarzenegger: I pick number three! Russ Cargill: You don't wanna read them first? Arnold Schwarzenegger: I was elected to lead, not to read. Number three!
I don't normally look to movies for wisdom, but I think they can sometimes serve as nice visualizations of ideas.
Make a decision based on what will make the next step the easiest.
Don't be overly concerned with making the wrong decision; bad decisions can be recovered from and learned from.
Gathering additional information always comes at a cost. We’re better off setting our criteria for making a decision in advance (as in, “I’ll make the call once I know X, Y, and Z”). Once you have that information, make the choice and move on.
We are designed to process information so quickly that “rapid cognition” – decisions that spring from hard thinking based on sound experience – can feel more instinctive than scientific. Trust your gut.
We should trust our expert intuition (based on experience) when making choices about familiar problems. But when we need a break-through solution, we shouldn’t be too quick to jump to conclusions.
If you’re wrestling with a difficult decision, consult a friend or colleague who’s been in your situation before. Their insight will likely be significantly more valuable than almost any research.
Ask yourself if this decision is really that meaningful. If it’s not, stop obsessing over it, and just make a call!
When you think about it, all business activity really comes down to two simple things: making decisions and executing on decisions.
Begin every decision-making process by considering how much time and effort that decision is worth, who needs to have input, and when you’ll have an answer.
Eric [Schmidt] made sure that decisions were made on a specific timeframe—a realistic one—but a firm one. He made this a habit for himself and it made a world of difference for Google.
There are decisions that deserve days of debate and analysis, but the vast majority aren’t worth more than 10 minutes.
As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve moved away from telling people I had the right answer upfront to shaping and steering the discussion toward a conclusion.
While I was at Google, Larry [Page] was extremely good at forcing decisions so fast that people were worried the team was about to drive the car off a cliff. He’d push it as far as he could go without people crossing that line of discomfort. It was just his fundamental nature to ask, "Why not? Why can’t we do it faster than this?" and then wait to see if people started screaming. He really rallied everyone around this theory that fast decisions, unless they’re fatal, are always better.