Tag Archives: decisive

Reduce options by making big decisions first


Choice stressHow can you make good decisions when there are so many options? Start with the biggest decisions and eliminate other outcomes. But always keep some backup options open in case it goes wrong.

It might probably sound familiar: you’re in the supermarket to do the weekly shopping for your family and you don’t know what to buy. You browse each section and there’s a lot of stuff you could buy. But what do you really need and where do you start? Typically I would buy “the regular stuff” we need and during the week find out that we haven’t got (enough of) ingredient X to make dinner. Which leads to another trip to the store.

Making the biggest decisions first reduces possible outcomes and combinations. In this case: what are you going to eat for dinner? Today, tomorrow and the rest of the week. You don’t have to make a strict planning for each day, but you need to get it fixed for a few of them to make life easier. When you know what’s for dinner, you know which ingredients you need.

Because the biggest decision is made, you can focus and take the next decisions. Ok, spaghetti’s up for dinner tomorrow. Which version are we going to make: napolitana, carbonara or vegetarian? When you take the next decision, the number of options go down again and it gets easier to select. For carbonara spaghetti you need meat, paprika, tomatoes and onion.

Keep some alternative options open, just in case. You never know what can change between the visit to the store and preparing your spaghetti. That’s why it’s handy to keep an alternative option open that allows you to switch easily. Also buy a zucchini and eggplant, just in case a friend of the family joins as a vegetarian.

Enjoy your meal!

Additional reading

“Decisive” by Chip & Dan Heath

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