Decision making skills and techniques

We use our decision making skills to solve problems by selecting one course of action from several possible alternatives. Decision making skills are also a key component of time management skills.

Decision making can be hard. Almost any decision involves some conflicts or dissatisfaction. The difficult part is to pick one solution where the positive outcome can outweigh possible losses. Avoiding decisions often seems easier. Yet, making your own decisions and accepting the consequences is the only way to stay in control of your time, your success, and your life. If you want to learn more on how to make a decision, here are some decision making tips to get you started.

A significant part of decision making skills is in knowing and practicing good decision making techniques. One of the most practical decision making techniques can be summarized in those simple decision making steps:

  1. Identify the purpose of your decision. What is exactly the problem to be solved? Why it should be solved?
  2. Gather information. What factors does the problem involve?
  3. Identify the principles to judge the alternatives. What standards and judgement criteria should the solution meet?
  4. Brainstorm and list different possible choices. Generate ideas for possible solutions. See more on extending your options for your decisions on my brainstorming tips page.
  5. Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences. Use your standards and judgement criteria to determine the cons and pros of each alternative.
  6. Determine the best alternative. This is much easier after you go through the above preparation steps.
  7. Put the decision into action. Transform your decision into specific plan of action steps. Execute your plan.
  8. Evaluate the outcome of your decision and action steps. What lessons can be learnt? This is an important step for further development of your decision making skills and judgement.

Final remark. In everyday life we often have to make decisions fast, without enough time to systematically go through the above action and thinking steps. In such situations the most effective decision making strategy is to keep an eye on your goals and then let your intuition suggest you the right choice.

Use a decision tree analysis to systematically arrive at your smartest choice
Decision trees are particularly useful for working through complex multistage decisions. They also give a systematic way to incorporate the uncertainty introduced by uncontrollable events.

Simplify your selection process with a decision matrix
Process your decision making situation one byte at a time to build a decision matrix. Then do a straightforward calculation to arrive at the relative overall ratings for your alternatives.

The power of intuition in decision making
Intuition can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your decision making, especially when it complements rational analysis. Get a better idea of where intuition fits best and how to use it properly.

Process decision information faster with mind mapping techniques
Natural organization of your decision making information in a visual network of notes will boost your brain’s ability to digest that information.

Our Time Management Fortress Newsletter
Building a stronger foundation for your success, one skill at a time.

Smart Choices : A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions
Learn more on how to make a decision. Even if you are already quite decisive and confident in your decision making, this book will still extend and complement your current abilities. You learn a number of simple and systematic strategies that will upgrade your effectiveness in practically any decision making situation. Additional decision making tips to protect you from many hidden traps.

Review of Decision Making Skills
A table listing certain elements of decision making skills and giving a few practical illustrations on how to make decisions.

Time management skills and techniques main page
Time management lessons with an in-depth discussion of the important time management skills, techniques, and activities.

Personal time management and goal setting guide main page
Practical information and advice on various personal time management and goal setting topics.

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