People make decisions every single day from the simplest things to life-changing choices. And many are done on auto-pilot or on impulse which sometimes leads to mistakes or unpleasant results. While decisiveness is an admirable trait, it is the how of it that sometimes get overlooked. To become better at anything, it helps to make a conscious decision instead of making uninformed or impulsive decisions. So if you are looking for ideas on how to make better decisions, here are some of the best books for your reading list.
1. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking; by Malcolm Gladwell
“The answer is that we are not helpless in the face of our first impressions. They may bubble up from the unconscious – from behind a locked door inside of our brain – but just because something is outside of awareness doesn’t mean it’s outside of control.”
The power of first impressions and the impact of overthinking when dealing with problems are just some of the thought-provoking insights to find in this book.
2. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath, Dan Heath, and Kaleo Griffith
“Success emerges from the quality of the decisions we make and the quantity of luck we receive. We can’t control luck. But we can control the way we make choices.”
Decisive explores why people are not really good at decision-making and offers tips and guides on how to become better at it.
3. Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions by Howard Raiffa, John S. Hammond, and Ralph L Keeney
With so many small and big decisions being made every day, making smart choices greatly help. In this book, the authors share practical ideas on how to make a wide array of decisions that get the best possible results you want.
Productivity, like most things in life, is a work in progress where you will always find room for improvement. So if you are feeling unproductive, don’t despair and instead focus on the things you can change to get the results you want. Here are just some of the things you can do today that will help you become more productive.
1. Get an earlier headstart
Take a leaf out of many successful people’s book and begin your day earlier than the time you usually start with work. Starting your day at least an hour or two earlier allows you to prepare in a more relaxed pace. It also gives you plenty of time for other activities that will set you off to a good start for the day.
2. Make a smarter to-do list
Not everything you think you need to do should be on your to-do list. You need to have a game plan. Focus on the most important tasks that will impact your short and stretch goals. With only a finite number of hours accomplish things at any given day, you have to determine your priorities.
3. Schedule and use breaks
Plan your day with at least 30-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon. You can either divide the time into 10-minute chunks or take one full thirty-minute break. But no matter how busy things get, make sure to have a break and step away from your work area to refresh your mind and body.
4. Manage distractions
Set a fixed time to read and reply to emails, check social media accounts, and whatever non-work related online activity you have to do. Turn off all notifications and put your phone in silent mode. If possible, use online tools and apps that let you work on your computer with minimal distractions. You might be surprised as to how much time you can save when you identify and manage distractions early on.
5. Switch-off at a set time
Set a deadline or switch off time. This not only adds a sense of urgency to your to-do list. It also develops the self-discipline that promotes work-life balance. By setting a fixed time when you have to stop working, you challenge yourself to make the most of the work time you have to accomplish the things you set out to do for the day.
6. Unwind and review your day
Use the time after work to unwind and review your day. You need time to relax and replenish your energy if you want to avoid getting burned out. You can make the most of your downtime to review what you have accomplished for the day and what you may need to improve on tomorrow.
Delaying action to wait for the right time, the right mood, or whatever it is that you think will ensure success only delays the results you want to get. Sometimes the best way to get things done is to do it now. Not tomorrow or the next day or sometime in the near future. While there are times you may have to put things off, making it a habit can hinder you from accomplishing the things you set out to do. Here are some ways to avoid procrastination and do the things you need to do now.
Develop self-awareness. Some things become part of a routine that you start doing them without much thinking. Practicing self-awareness allows you to take an objective look on habits that may be hindering you from achieving your goals. Pay attention to how quickly you act on the things you need to do. If you find that you seem to have a habit of putting off a task for later, accept that it may be something you need to improve on.
Determine the reasons for delaying action. Is the task difficult, boring, or both? Or are there too many things that distract you from what you have to do? You need to reflect on why you may not be working on the important things that need your attention so you can start resolving them.
Take control and change what you can. Start making small changes that will help you deal with habits that no longer serve you. Get organized, get high-priority tasks accomplished, and stay focused on crossing off items on your to-do list.
Use breaks well. Working without any rest is not only tiring. It also makes it harder to have fun doing the work you need to do. Taking a break is not a waste of time when you are busy. In fact, it is much needed to refresh your mind and body. Take deep breaths, stand up and stretch, enjoy a short walk, play brain games, or do anything that re-energizes you.
Keep your end-goal in sight. The next time you are tempted to put off a high-priority task, think of the potential impact on your bigger goals. Don’t lose sight of the big picture as failing to accomplish an important task at hand may influence the outcomes of your long-term goals.
Now is always a good time to do it. Whatever it is that you need to do, motivate yourself to do it now. Sometimes the trick to accomplishing something unpleasant or boring is to just go right ahead and do it. Allowing yourself to get stuck in a perpetual state of procrastination can make you lose precious time doing nothing. Taking action is important in getting the results you want.