Home » Blog » Method For: Decision Waste

Method For: Decision Waste

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

I love to read. I read a lot. But the transition from one book to the next is hard for me. I am usually mourning the fact that the book I just finished is over while also fearing the book I’m about to start because it’s unfamiliar and I don’t know any of the characters (I know, it’s weird.) But the discomfort of the transition escalates 10x when I have not yet selected the next book I’m going to read because then I have to make a decision before I can move on and it sucks. I research and flounder and go down rabbit holes, wasting a ton of time in the process. Conversely if I have selected the next book ahead of time I open it up and start right away, plowing right through the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing the characters.

Indecisiveness can be a major time-waster, leaving you feeling stuck and unproductive, unable to move on to what’s next. I abhor indecisiveness and so I make all of my small decisions ahead of time. I call it the 5 Minute Rule.

When you have to make a decision in the moment it feels stressful. When you make a decision ahead of time it’s easier. When you eliminate the stress layer of immediacy small decisions and choices can mostly be made in 5 minutes or less. Obviously you can’t make every decision ahead of time and in 5 minutes (if only!) and every day presents different decisions to be made, but if you can identify the small choices that do happen daily you can save yourself a lot of time and mental energy.

Think about your typical day, what are some of the small decisions you make? I have a few examples of make-ahead decisions that grease the skids for things I have to do. They not only save me time but also reduce friction in the moment which makes me 10x more likely to do the thing I’m trying to do!

Workout Decisions

If I don’t work out early the morning before I’ve done anything else the workout doesn’t happen for me. Needless to say I’m not feeling super perky and ready to make decisions as soon as I get up. So I make sure that I have made the decision around what I’m going to do that morning the night before. I am a Peloton devotee so usually I’m doing a ride in combination with strength work and stretching. The night prior, while I’m watching TV I go into the Peloton app and create a stack of my classes, browsing through the different options and making the decisions based on how much time I have the next morning and my priorities for that workout. It takes less than 5 minutes and then the stack is waiting for me in the morning and I don’t have to think about it. There are so many class choices that in my groggy morning state my scrolling and choosing would take at least double the time, each minute taking me farther away from the start of this workout that I would rather not do.

Plan What You Wear

How many times have you stood in your closet for 15 minutes deciding what to wear that day? I worked for Nordstrom for 30 years and have always taken great joy in choosing my outfits. In the past I would put something together, change my mind, try something else on, discard it, try a different pair of shoes, remember that I had a lot of between-building meetings that day and opt for flats instead, and on and on. Before I knew it I was late hassling the kids to hurry up, late getting them out the door, hit the morning traffic I planned to avoid and ultimately arriving in my office 30 minutes late. These days my mornings are not as stressful as I have nobody to be responsible for but myself and am not running between meetings in heels but I still pick out what I’m wearing the night before so getting dressed after showering is seamless and fast.

Meal Decisions

I think you are getting the idea here but deciding ahead of time what you are going to eat will save you tons of time, both in decision-making but also in trips to the store. This example can certainly works on a daily basis but if you make decisions for the whole week and then do the shopping once you’ve got several hours back that you could spend reading, taking a walk, working in the garden, whatever. Who doesn’t want an extra 3 hours in their week? I spend 5-10 minutes selecting which nights I’m cooking, what I want to eat and making a list of what I need. Then I spend 45 minutes shopping, including my to/from driving time. The list makes the shopping trip fast but you could make it even faster if you needed to by using delivery instead of an in-person trip. Five minutes up front save you 3+ hours on the back end – that’s an excellent return on your decision-making!

Plan Your Day

Spend 5 minutes the night before making a To Do list and assigning a time box for each item on the list. The small things that need to get done but often don’t (make dentist appt, water pots, purchase plane ticket, stop by dry cleaner, etc.) will go faster and disappear off your list if you take the 5 minutes to decide where they fit in your busy day. By planning ahead and knowing what you want to accomplish, you can avoid wasting time trying to decide what to do next. It’s pretty simple stuff.

Indecisiveness can be a major time-waster, but it’s a problem that can be easily solved by making decisions ahead of time. The 5 Minute Rule has become a way of life for me, I started using it out of necessity when I had no time and now it helps me ensure I’m saving as much as possible for the things I want to do, like read Romantic Comedy (Reese’s April Book Club pick) in 4 days! See how much time (and cognitive load) you can save by adopting the 5 Minute Rule in your busy, busy life!

Similar Posts

Method Seattle Comment Policy

We welcome relevant and respectful comments. Off-topic comments may be removed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *