The Skill that Leads to More Happiness

choicesDays are packed with tasks that need to be done.  And if just looking at a giant list and choosing which to start on isn’t challenging enough, making the best choice about how to track all the items is a huge project in itself.  There are dozens of software programs, apps, tools and methods to make sure your to do list isn’t just rattling around in your head.  Which system is best?

It’s difficult to know for sure so instead of committing to one system most people get hepped up about the latest option, try it for a few days and then go searching again.  Over a few months several systems are in various states of implementation and finding the “best to do list application” has become a recurring item on the to do list.

In his book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, author Barry Schwartz says that too many choices can lead to “decision-making paralysis, anxiety and perpetual stress,” and I see it every day.  Hours and days are spent researching options. I spent at least an hour over a few days reviewing and shopping for the best hair product to give me “beachy waves.” (Gentlemen, don’t ask.) But the hunt is the fun part – especially when it comes to work-related tasks. It’s much more fun to check out task list apps on your smartphone than it is to actually DO the tasks. Plus the search is technically “work,” right?

More important than finding the “best” of anything is honing your ability to choose and take action.

Tips about making choices

Here are some points to keep in mind when you find yourself mired in indecision:

  • You don’t have to find the best option, you just need an option that meets your basic needs. If you’re just as productive keeping your tasks on a paper to do list, do it. If you use a task list app, give yourself 10 minutes to research them then pick one and stick with it for at least a month to see if it works for you. You’re trying to create a routine here, you’ll need time to get used to it. Bouncing to a new app too soon will just start the process back at square one.
  • There is likely something better out there either already or there will be in the near future.  The computer you painstakingly researched before buying was yesterday’s news by the time you got it set up. This is what the consumer experience is like now. Obsolescence at the speed of light.
  • There are 148,000 books on time management because the ideas in those books worked for at least one person… the author. The odds of finding the one book that will answer all of your time management challenges are nil. Know that going in and don’t waste your time researching for hours or days.  You can usually learn at least one good thing from any book, even if  it’s just not to read any more books by that author. Besides, the best time management advice you can get is this…Pick a task and do it.  See?  You didn’t even need a book.
  • For choices about work tasks you need to have a result to weigh your choices against.  If you need revenue NOW, what tasks will get you there fastest?  Probably not checking Facebook.

Not choosing leads to discontent. The only chance you have of feeling good about your decision is to actually make one.