Managing Stress: Clear Thinking
Surf or turf? Skirt or slacks? Used car or new? Comedy or drama?
Each day, you're faced with literally hundreds of decisions – everything from choosing those important directions that your life will take to deciding on the videos that you want to rent. Whatever options you choose, one thing remains the same: making time decisions takes a lot of energy. Each time you need to ignite that proverbial light bulb between your ears, the energy must come from somewhere.
Unfortunately, it doesn't end there, since most of us tend to second-guess ourselves and even agonize over the choices made – or ponder if we made the right decision. This process can cloud your mind and de-energize your body.
But the way to more energized decision-making is clear – or, rather, clear thinking. Clear thinking takes more work than muddling at first, so it requires more energy in the short run. But once you begin to clear up your thinking, you'll see the energy benefits.
Decide How You Decide
The first step to clearer thinking and better decision-making is to decide how you decide. There are four types of decision makers, according to Dorothy Leeds, a New York City consultant who teaches executives how to be better decision makers through her book "Smart Questions: A New Strategy For Successful Managers." She describes them this way:
Leeds has advice to help all four types of decision makers make better choices. If you're a Commander type, force yourself to slow down and bring
your proposed decision to a Carer, who would consider all sides. If you're a Carer, set a time limit on your information-gathering stage and find a Commander to assess your judgment. If you're a Convincer, bring it to a Calculator, and vice versa.
Mind Over Matter
No matter what your decision-making style, experts say that certain rules apply to everyone. And here's what they suggest for making better decisions and clearing up that muddled, energy-draining kind of thinking.
Before you make any good decision, you have to assemble as many facts as possible with a little detective work; and that comes from asking questions.
After you ask all the questions, ask yourself one more. To find that crux, try to put the issue or problem into a single declarative sentence. The problem or question must be one sentence long and no more.
Another common problem is that we tend to make many decisions with an either-or attitude. This limits our options when, in reality, there are usually more answers facing us. Chess is the perfect example. The downfall of many players in chess, as in life, is that they concentrate only on two or three moves while there are many other possible routes.
Use your values to help decide what's important enough to think about and work through, and what you should let go. A lot of energy gets wasted thinking about things that are insignificant in relation to what we really value. But if you know what's important, you can focus your thinking on these things.
Finally, get used to starting each day with some mental organization. Many people find that it's helpful to have a daily 'to do' list of activities and things to be accomplished. This log can also help clear your thinking. But, beware too, because if you're compulsive, you may spend too much time just making your list. List making frees your mind up.