On 100-hour decisions vs 5-minute decisions
There are 2 fundamental types of decisions — 100-hour decisions and 5-minute decisions. If you’re not actively categorizing your decision-making into these buckets, chances are that you’re treating your decisions incorrectly.
When given the chance, the brain really only wants to spend 1–10 conscious hours thinking about complicated problems. 100 hours can feel like too much. However, very few important decisions will actually fall within that category because:
We are unlikely to make the wrong decision by choosing from options A, B and C. Instead, we are a lot more likely to make the wrong decision by not even exploring options D, E, F, G etc.
It’s not binary but here are some tools you can use when trying to decide if the problem in front of you requires 100 hours of thinking or 5 minutes of thinking:
- Is it reversible? If you can undo the decision, it’s most likely a decision that should take < 5 min. If it’s irreversible, spend a lot more thinking about it.
- What is the long-term worst-case scenario? Is it easily stomached? i.e. if the worst case is losing $1000 in a business that’s generating $1M, then it’s probably < 5 min.
- What are the long-term repercussions? Some decisions feel like they should only take < 5 min but actually have long-term repercussions — e.g. burning bridges with important business partners by canceling a previously committed project.
- What else might be affected, inadvertently? Does the decision have wider repercussions? E.g. Imagine an employee who has asked whether the company will sponsor their gym membership. You have no problem granting it to them, but what about the wider implications? Can you afford this for everyone else? If you can’t, do you need to put rules in place about who can get it and who can’t? Will others think those rules are unfair?
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