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The Trick That Simplifies Decision Making

The Just In Case disease. How to make decisions, by

Research shows that an abundance of options can paralyze us.

There’s a classic study that showed people purchased more jam from a supermarket when there were fewer options presented to them. They just got overwhelmed by too many choices and left without buying any.

I’ve seen this happen often with both clients and friends. People prefer to have two or three options presented to them; more than that and it becomes burdensome to them and anxiety steps in.

So how to reduce the number of options? That’s a choice in and of itself that can trick us all up. But it doesn’t need to; narrowing your choices to the top two or three really is as easy as editing out the ‘just in cases’.

Usually a lot of those extra options are there “just in case.”

In case there is an unexpected turn of events, in case the current situation changes, in case you change your mind down the road. Remove those extra options and make the decision based upon the circumstances that exist right now. 

You can eliminate the elderberry jam you’re considering getting in case your Aunt Betty decides to visit some time soon. When she does, she can enjoy the strawberry you like or you can head back to the store and get that elderberry jam then.

Next time you have a decision to make, ask yourself what your ‘just in cases’ are and remove the ones that are only a distraction. You’ll be glad you did!

What things (or options) have you held on to just in case?

How to Boost Creativity During the Day

How to boost creativity during the day“How do I schedule my day?”

I hear this question from clients and friends alike. Deciding how to structure our time and steward  our resources is top of mind for all of us.

 We’re working longer. But that doesn’t mean we’re getting any more done.

Of course, scheduling your work day depends on lots of factors. If you work in an office, home office, what type of work you do, etc..

No matter what field you are in and what type of business you do, there are three habits that will help you have the best day possible.

(Two of the habits, we have already covered here together, just click the links for the article on each one.)

3 Keys to Structuring Your Day:

1.  Do the things that have the most impact. 

2. Stay focused and avoid wasting your time.

3. Schedule breaks throughout the work day.

This one is so counterintuitive, you may be tempted to roll your eyes, skim over it and never think of it again. (How do I know this? I used to do the same thing!)

We can only stay focused on a single task for about 90-120 minutes at a time.

Physiologist  Nathan Kleitman, a groundbreaking sleep researcher, first coined what he called  the “basic rest-activity cycle”: the 90-minute cycles during which you progress through the five stages of sleep. Kleitman found the 90-minute pattern in our days, too, as we move from higher to lower alertness–the ultradian rhythm.

Have you noticed how you have certain times of day where you operate at peak performance and other times you seem to be phoning it in? Ultradian Rhythm at work! 

Our brains are meant to have breaks.

We can only focus on a single task for a limited amount of time before our focus and work suffers. When we take a break, we are allowing our brains to  process.

The brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. For example, most people are not aware of the sensation of clothing touching their skin. The body becomes “habituated” to the feeling and the stimulus no longer registers in any meaningful way in the brain. 

Taking a break from the task at hand allows our brains to make breakthroughs in our work. (Research)

Want to remember more and be more creative? Take breaks during  your work day.

Your brain needs time to be away from the computer screen. In my opinion, checking Facebook does not *really* count as a break, neither does checking your email. Why? Those things are too closely tied to your work because you are still staring at the screen.

Try going outside for a few minutes, do some stretches, chat with a colleague or friend, say a prayer or (if you must stay at the computer) watch a 5 minute clip on Youtube that will make you laugh. Disengage and get out of the normal ‘head space’ that your brain is in during the work day.

Try this for a few days and your brain will thank you! 


P.S. I was inspired to write this article after seeing a new marketing promo from Staples. It is a gorgeous scrolling infographic that highlights our need for breaks at work. (I don’t know if it will make people go buy their supplies at Staples, but either way, it’s a cool infographic. Kudos to the creative team!)

Here are the screengrabs from the Breather infographic. Enjoy!

1 in 5 workers feel too guilty to take breaks

58 planes take flight

5 new businesses are started
204 million email is sent
21 million cups of coffee
9% more productive when you take breaks at work
13% more accurate
breaks give our brains a chance to process information
Solve problems and boost creativity
Go take a break
It'll be worth it

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