34 - How to differentiate between decisions using a decision matrix



I went from being stressed by too many daily decisions to having time for the truly important and big decisions with a simple change. You can learn the basics in two minutes. And like any good system it works everywhere–work and life.

We often spend too much time on the small decisions and not enough on the big ones. Some of it is fear. We don’t want to tackle the big bad problem just yet. Most of it is a lack of differentiation–we treat all decisions the same.

No one remembers how well you crafted an internal email to put out a fire, if those fires happen every day. I bet even you don’t recall your best email from yesterday.

Through a simple system of transfer of time from the small to the big decisions, we can create more mental space for the tough decisions. For that we need an easy way to tell big from small.

Decisions fall into a simple 2X2 matrix of consequential vs. inconsequential and

reversible vs. irreversible. This is something I learned from a decision-making course by Farnam Street.

All the big decisions in our lives–whom we spend our lives with or whether to buy a house–are consequential and irreversible. They deeply affect our future and we can’t go back once we make them. These are the “Lead Domino” decisions. They are connected to everything else–family, freedom, fulfillment.

All other decision quadrants are where we need to spend less and less time. These apply to tasks ranging from those that produce marginal results to those that are downright unproductive. Outsource, delegate, offload. Tip: Get the person most affected by the decision to make it. But also coach them. Remember it’s a big decision for them.

What the 2X2 Decision Matrix does is examine our excuse for busyness by pointing and asking: This is what is most important; are you spending your time here? It forces us to allocate time to our best interests.

So take a piece of paper. List down all the decisions on your mind. Fit them in the decision matrix. Are you spending your time well?

Note: The 2X2 Decision Matrix is consistent with Jeff Bezos’ one-way-door and product guru Shreyas Doshi’s leverage-neutral-overhead task frameworks.

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