Have you ever made a bad decision or said something you later regretted? Yeah, me too. We all have. And tell me this: how many times did you make the decision or said those words while you were angry or emotional? For me, the answer would be that I was angry most of the times.
Well, I’m here to tell you about a simple life hack that my dad initially taught me, and that will help you work smarter and make good decisions, and that you can implement right away.
How to Get Smarter With Your Decision-Making
It’s simple: sleep on it. All this means is that, when you have any big decision to make or anything important to say, wait until the next day to make your choice and take your action. Why? Because it will greatly reduce the role of your emotions in the decision-making process.
In my experience, this life hack works because decisions made while you are very emotional (especially if that emotion is anger) tend to be heavily influenced by the emotion, and not by your rational, thinking mind. This leads to worse choices.
Have you ever had a great idea come to you in the shower? This is exactly how this works: when the mind is taken off a task, it breaks the thoughts associated with that task, and allows new ones to form, resulting in a different vision of the problem, a new angle.
What If You Don’t Have Time to Sleep on It?
If you have to take action quickly and don’t have time to go home and sleep, try to break you emotional and thought patterns by doing something before you make the choice. For example, take a walk outside or watch a funny video on your phone. Or if you just have a few minutes, go to the bathroom.
When working, I use a variation of this technique to work smarter. What I do is complete a task 90% of the way, and then move on to something else. Hours (or even days) later, I come back to the first thing. For example, if I have to make a report, I’ll write it, but won’t hand it in if it’s not due yet. I’ll just leave it on my computer, and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
This helps me work smarter because I’ll come up with new ideas or realize the mistakes I made, all while I was taking that break. In fact, I suspect that, while I’m on something else, my subconscious mind is still thinking it through.
The Unsent Angry Letter
A slightly different take on this life hack is the so-called unsent angry letter. As The New York Times explained some time ago, it’s exactly what is sounds like: when you’re emotional and angry at someone, you write them a really nasty letter telling them how bad they are. But then you never send it.
This helps you make good decisions because it kind of serves as an emotional punching bag. Or, as the Times put it, “emotions cooled, you proceed in a more reasonable, and reasoned, fashion”.
I had this experience myself when my fiancee and I were dealing with our wedding planners. They were the kind of people that do a good job, but don’t like to be bothered. We would send them all sort of detailed e-mails, and they’d just ignore us.
Well, that made me smoking mad. After all, I was paying these bozos!
One day, I reached the end of my rope, and spent about one emotional hour writing a nasty e-mail. Like, really nasty, explaining to them why they sucked at customer service. But, as I wrote it, it had the effect of letting me vent, and by the end, I did not feel the need to send it. I’m glad I did not, because it would have ruined our relationship with the people who had control over our wedding (which turned out well at the end).
Summing It Up – Emotional Decisions Are Not Good Decisions
The idea behind all of this is simple: whenever possible, let your mind and emotions rest before making decisions or taking action. Put some space between your initial thoughts and emotions and your actual choice. This simple life hack will lead to better decisions because it’ll allow your rational mind to shine through, and you’ll see the situation in a whole new light.
Have you used this technique to work smarter or make good decisions?