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6 Reasons We Make Bad Decisions, and What to Do About Them

Source | hbrascend.org | Mike Erwin

Research has shown that a typical person makes about 2,000 decisions every waking hour. Most decisions are minor and we make them instinctively or automatically — what to wear to work in the morning, whether to eat lunch now or in ten minutes, etc. But many of the decisions we make throughout the day take real thought, and have serious consequences. Consistently making good decisions is arguably the most important habit we can develop, especially at work. Our choices affect our health, our safety, our relationships, how we spend our time, and our overall well-being. Based on my experiences from three deployments as an Army officer and from researching Lead Yourself First, I’ve found the following mindsets to be detrimental to good decision-making. When you have to make an important decision, be on the lookout for:

Researchers estimate that our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Consequently, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus.

Decision fatigue.

Even the most energetic people don’t have endless mental energy. Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly exerted.  One of the most famous studies on this topic showed that prisoners are more likely to have parole approved in the morning than when their cases are heard in the afternoon. With so many decisions to make, especially ones that have a big impact on other people, it’s inevitable to experience decision fatigue. To counter it, identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.

A steady state of distraction.

The technology tsunami of the past decade has ushered in an era of unprecedented convenience. But it’s also created an environment where information and communication never cease. Researchers estimate that our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986.

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hbrascend.org
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