Is Indecisiveness Killing Your Productivity?
Productivity, an experiment with time.
I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to overcomplicate things.
It’s something I’m working on.
One of the things that seems to sting me in the butt most days is indecisiveness. Not only can’t I decide what I want to do which is immensely frustrating but the time I spend thinking is time I don’t spend doing.
It’s the bit before the to-do list but it often occurs after the to-do list is written too. It’s me deciding that this is what I’m doing right now and nothing else. Before writing this article for example I was contemplating doing the wallpapering, getting a coffee, writing a different article for a friend and/or mowing the lawn.
I got up and made a coffee, started the article, looked at the wall to wallpaper and decided not to mow the lawn as it’s currently 7:40am and the neighbours might not be incredibly happy about that.
However, what that did do is bring to my attention the productivity killer that is indecisiveness. I’d just wasted 40 minutes thinking about all the things I could be doing rather than spending 40 minutes on the things I should be doing.
Is There a Right or Wrong Decision?
Would it matter if I wallpapered, wrote the other article or wrote this article? Would it matter if I decided to do any of the other things that I have on my list today? Sure, there is an argument for an optimal sequence of events, however my time spent figuring what that is probably derails the whole thing.
Let me explain.
There is no right or wrong decision to make. It wouldn’t matter if I started the morning out with mowing the lawn or wallpaper (although my neighbours would tell you differently).
There is just stuff on a list that I need to complete, no rules or regulations about when to complete, by which time.
There is just my ambition to complete them and the tasks left outstanding. It’s really that simple.
There is an expectation from myself that I will complete said tasks and do them to the best of my ability but that is as complex as this problem gets.
There are tasks to complete and me to complete them.
Indecisiveness Wastes Time and Productivity
I am, or rather I was, incredibly indecisive. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. At the height of my indecisiveness it would take me half an hour to decide what sandwich to buy from the shop — needless to say it got a little out of hand.
So instead, I’m working on making decisions quicker, going with my gut on things and just choosing an option. For me, not doing that leads to huge amounts of procrastination and ultimately little productivity.
Now there are some decisions that are just not worth more than a second of your time. Those decisions we tend to give way more attention to and they become time leaks in our system.
For example, deciding on what order you are going to complete you daily tasks in. Let’s say your to-do list comprises of the following:
Clean the garage
Write an article (first draft)
Mow the lawn
Wallpaper the landing
A fairly hefty to do list but nonetheless enough to do in one day. If we think about these tasks in terms of hours we can get an idea of the total work time we have for the day:
Clean the garage = 2 hours
Write an article (first draft) = 1 hour
Mow the lawn = 30 minutes
Wallpaper the landing = 2 hours
TOTAL TIME: 5 hrs 30 minutes
Anymore than that and it’s rather unrealistic that all the items on the list would get ticked off. So, 5 hrs and 30 minutes to complete. If I spend any time deciding what to do, I won’t be chipping any time off the 5 hours and 30 minutes.
Waking up and spending an hour flitting between tasks, starting one thing and then changing to another is no good. Planning is quite a sneaky concept in that it tricks us into thinking we are being productive. At the end of a long planning session figuring out what to do today, I’ll have nothing to show for it.
Any time spent trying to optimise your daily to-do list is time taken away from doing your actual tasks. There is little to no replacement for doing the work. Is an hour spent trying to optimise better than actually doing the thing you need to do?
Optimising the day above may save me 10 minutes total. I may as well spend that time doing rather than optimising, as it will take me much longer than 10 minutes to figure out how to optimise. And anything longer than 10 minutes is suboptimal and thus not worth my time.
Some Decisions Need the Right Amount of Time
Not that life is a race, there are decisions that take a lot of time to consider and mull over. Thinking of the pros and cons and making a rational decision in the right headspace. Those decisions need more time but still, they don’t require buckets of it. They just require the right amount.
Most of the time you know the answer. If you’re really honest with yourself you know the answer. You know the pros and cons, the ones that fall onto the paper are the most prominent.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Trust Your Gut – Productivity
We know the answer a lot of the time. We know we’re just thinking around a problem more to procrastinate. You’ll never write an article by just thinking about it, you’ll never get better at running by reading about it and you’ll certainly not do any of the big things by just thinking about them.
Your most audacious goals, your closest kept desires, your hopes and your dreams for your life will not come true by just thinking about it.
Action drives change and action is productivity. It takes movement whether it’s words on a page or steps on the pavement, to produce.
You know the answer, trust yourself to go with what you think the best decision is based on what you have available to you.
Most of the time your best guess is enough to get you to a result that is good enough.
Good enough is better than not at all.
At the end of the day, time spent on the fence is life in limbo. Most of our time, I fear, is being spent between decisions, the same thoughts circling in our heads.
Should I? Shouldn’t I?
Make sure the balance is right. More time doing, less time making the decisions. The other way around leads to a lot less productivity.