Simplify by Making Decisions Faster

The following post is from Rachel of The Minimalist Mom:

Simplify by Making Decisions Faster at lifeyourway.net

source:  Neeta Linda

We’ve been in a long debate over where our oldest will go to school.

My husband and I have gone back and forth between the two options almost weekly. This feels like our first big parenting decision, so we’ve asked other parents with children in the school system what they think. Truly, everyone has an opinion on which school is better and why.

While our son’s education is very important to us opening up the decision making process has exposed us to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. Parkinson argued that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. The more basic, trivial or simple a project or decision, the more room there is for time wasted with debate of multiple opinions. 

In Parkinson’s examples, a nuclear reactor is so complex and requires such a high level of specialized knowledge that decisions for it can be made quickly. In contrast, a bike shed (a public shelter for storing bikes) is such a simple concept that most people have an opinion or suggestion on the design of it. Very few people are nuclear reactor specialists while almost anyone can drum up an opinion on the layout of a bike shelter.

Sometimes simple equates to more opinions, more debate and more time. Not ideal for those of us that are home managers and/or parents, two of the most widely held jobs in the world. Everyone from our neighbor to our spouse to our own decision making process can bog us down in a lengthy debate over one simple low-cost and low-impact decision.

So how do you fight time and energy wasted to the law of triviality? It’s great to ask for feedback from others when researching options but too much research often leads to information overload and even more time researching.

Make simple decisions faster in your household by:

  • The rule of three. Get three quotes for painting the exterior of your home, ask three friends if they think bangs would look good on you and research three summer vacation rentals. Limit how many options you give yourself and your organization, aka family, to choose from.
  • Set a time limit. Don’t let the choice of paint color for a bathroom dominate family conversation for a weekend. Decide when you will make the decision by and stick to that deadline.
  • The dollar rule. Set a dollar amount for spending that require a household discussion. Your six year-old doesn’t need to weigh in on changing the brand of dog food you buy.
  • Have a trusted adviser. You probably already have that person in your life that you bounce ideas off like a  spouse or best friend. Get feedback from one source and then trust your gut for the rest.

Our school debate has come to an end. The one thing we knew when we moved here is that all of the schools in our area are good. The rest of it really is just trivial.

Do you lose time and energy when making small decisions? Are you on a committee that spends a lot of time on trivial planning? How do you make trivial decisions faster?

Rachel Jonat is a world medalist rower turned marketing professional turned SAHM/writer. At The Minimalist Mom, Rachel writes about living a rich life with less stuff. Currently living on a windswept island in the middle of the Irish Sea, Rachel owns two pairs of jeans, loves taking the bus and is attempting to become a tea drinker.