Make Work Easier! Eliminate “Decision Clutter”

Our incredibly busy schedules often create a lot of quick and dirty reactions that can lead to absolute gridlock in an operation if left unchecked. I’m talking about the decisions you make when you are stressed, working on three things at once, and simply don’t have the time to look into it any further than the surface….these are often highlighted by the “justs”:

  • “Just make the customer happy”
  • “Just do what you think is best”
  • “Just order the same amount as last month”
  • “Just fix it”

Without any thought, our decisions by definition become thoughtless. Two things happen when we compromise our decisions in order to take the easy (and quick) way out:

1) Cleaning up the mess – We have to go back later and put in even more work than we would have if we had taken the time upfront.

2) Sweeping it under the rug – We ignore the effects of the poor decisions, leave the loose ends untied, and let the needed work build up until it absolutely has to be dealt. Usually in a time and cost intensive way.

In either case there is the clutter of unfinished business left in the wake of the hasty decision, and eventually the waves created by those cluttered decisions will need to be followed up on. Add these decisions to the decisions you’ll naturally have to make day in and day out, and no wonder you feel stressed out and overworked. To put it succinctly:

The easy way is NOT EASY

If you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you will have time to do it over?
— Seth Godin

Paying the long term price for short term gain is always a recipe for eventual disaster. Spend the time and energy in the moment and you will have more time in the future. As you begin to not take the easy way out, you’ll find that after a week, two weeks, or a month you have more time on your plate and are making more progress than before. In effect you are not just busy, but you’re now being effective. So many managers are busy BEACAUSE of their ineffective practices like this one. But you say, “Sure Cameron, that sounds great, but how do you do that?”

Take the two seconds – The idea is that just a little thought can lead to disproportionately better decision making. Would you trade 60 seconds now, for 10 minutes at the end of your day? Most of the time it doesn’t take a lot to make a carefully informed and thought out decision, and for those 10% of decisions that do need more time….

Ask them to come back – Many decisions can wait 30 minutes, an hour, a day. What does everyone do when you are at lunch? They wait. You might be crazy busy right now, but that may clear up in the next 10 minutes. Ask them to come back. Better to delay the decision a little instead of making a bad one.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more info – And to exacerbate the issue, sometimes the “easy way” is to make the decision without all of the necessary information. Make sure you have all of the information by asking for it. Again, it often isn’t as difficult as you (or they) think. It may be back at their desk or they may just need to make one phone call. Most of the time it is quick.

Trust your gut – Face it, you know when you are making the quick and dirty decision. When you hear yourself saying the words (like “just”) that will lead to that decision being put into action, STOP and think a little. Listen to that voice in your head, it may be your final safety net from creating more work later.

The time crunch of the modern day manager is as bad as it has ever been, and it creates an amazing amount of stress. Don’t be your own worst enemy and make decisions that just cause more work down the line. Our role as managers is to reduce clutter in our workplace, not create more of it.

Tom Watson

Tom Watson, founder of Your Better Life, believes in the possibility of discovering your full potential, which allows you to become truly successful both at work and at home. He also insists on having fun along the way. As a highly successful business leader, dynamic international speaker, best-selling author, and consultant, Tom Watson has dedicated his life to inspiring people to have more fun while striving for excellence in their personal and professional lives. Tom is a customer service specialist and a true entrepreneur, having built a variety of successful businesses from the ground up, including Recreation Excellence, a highly successful recreation services and facility management company in western Canada.