Decide to Be Decisive

by Mark on January 20, 2010 · 1 comment

Decisiveness is a quality that we all recognize as desirable, but what is decisiveness? I like to think of “decisiveness” as “the ability to turn maybes into yeses and nos.” Decisiveness is about getting off the fence. It is about eliminating uncertainty and hesitancy. It is about shitting or getting off the pot.

Decisiveness can be a character trait, and it can be a state of mind.  If you have the character trait of decisiveness, then you exhibit decisiveness on a consistent basis. However, even if you are not a particularly decisive person, you can put yourself in a state of decisiveness temporarily. Put yourself in a state of decisiveness often enough, and you will condition yourself to be a decisive person.

Decisiveness offers us significant benefits. It is extremely important to reducing procrastination and to being productive and organized. It helps to eliminate anxiety and improves our confidence. It gives us greater peace of mind.

Let’s look at ways to improve our decisiveness and use it to improve our lives.

Ways to Improve Your Decisiveness

1) Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero is a phrase popularized by Merlin Mann at 43 Folders. Inbox Zero refers to the goal of having zero e-mails in your inbox and keeping it that way. If you are like most people, you are constantly assaulted with an endless barrage of e-mail. The only way to achieve Inbox Zero is by being decisive and rapidly deciding what needs to be done about each e-mail, and then deleting it or archiving it (i.e. create an Archive folder to save e-mails for reference). For the e-mails that require a little more time, record it on your To Do list or calendar, and then archive it for reference. If you have a massive number of e-mails to begin with, create a temporary To Be Decided folder and move all your e-mails in there temporarily until you can allocate time to deal with them. Keep in mind that every e-mail in your inbox represents a decision waiting to be made. Use the number of e-mails in your inbox as a measure of your indecisiveness, and work at reducing it. For extra credit, find ways to apply the Inbox Zero concept to your physical inbox as well.

2) Declutter

Clutter is largely a result of indecision. Maybe you haven’t decided on a home for the item. Maybe you haven’t decided what action you need to take. Or maybe you simply haven’t made the decision to motivate yourself into action to put the item in its home. Decide on homes for anything that you want to keep, and get in the habit of putting the item back in its home as soon as you are done with it. Begin making decisions about items that you want to give away or throw away, and decide to take action. One excellent test of your decisiveness is your ability to only pick up an item once. Try not to pick up any item multiple times. Pick it up, make a decision, and then move on to the next item.

3) Clean up your To Do list.

Go through your To Do list, and nuke items that are not important enough to worry about and are undeserving of your time. Make decisions about when you are going to work on your tasks and schedule them on your calendar. Give special priority to items where you have been putting off decisions. We all have them. If it seems overwhelming, break the task down to something more manageable. Make your tasks precise. A task is well defined if you can immediately say whether or not it has been completed. Eliminate ambiguity.

4) Take care of unresolved matters.

Everyone has something that they have been meaning to do for a long time. There might be some small annoyance that you have been telling yourself that just isn’t important enough to do right now. These little annoyances can accumulate and cause unnecessary stress. Decide to rid yourself of these little annoyances and enjoy greater peace of mind.

5) Decide how you are going to apply the results of zero-based thinking.

You will benefit  from the decisions that I have discussed previously, but if you really want to transform your life, then begin to make big, life-changing decisions. In yesterday’s post, I wrote about using the power of zero-based thinking to get clear about exactly what you want. Once you know what you want, decide on what changes you are going to commit to, and then put those changes into action.

What strategies do you use to improve your decisiveness?

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