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Tip Tuesday – Analysis Paralysis

Sometimes I long for the “good old days,” when there was a limited amount of choices and decision-making was easy.

I remember my Mom shopping for a new refrigerator about four decades back. I grew up near Vestal, New York, so we went to family-owned Olum’s Appliances (still going strong!). A knowledgeable salesman presented five or six choices, only a few were in our price range, and the decision was made within minutes.

Now there are a myriad of choices for EVERYTHING, from breakfast bars, to jeans, to appliances and beyond. Analysis paralysis is caused when we have TOO many choices (and access to internet reviews), and subsequently put off making a decision until we make it in haste or don’t make it at all.
For example, I have a friend who just cannot single out which vacuum to purchase to replace her broken one. She reads customer reviews, has researched ALL the options, and is watching for sale prices. In the meantime, the dust bunnies continue to multiply. There are just too many alternatives and, as a perfectionist, she feels she MUST choose the “right” vacuum. She has invested over 15 hours into buying an item that will cost about $300. I asked her: “Does this seem like a good use of your valuable time?”

If you’re facing analysis paralysis like my friend, first ask yourself “is this a small, medium, or large decision?” Try to match the time and attention you invest to the scale of the decision and the amount of risk involved. You can base your scale on cost or impact. (For example, paint is not expensive but choosing the “wrong” color and hating it every day when you walk into your kitchen will have a large impact.) Small decisions mean a minimal investment of time and energy.

Then give clear parameters for each decision. Limit your NUMBER of choices; for example, “I will only look at four appliance stores,” or ” I will only test ten colors in my kitchen.” Limit your TIME to make that choice; for example, “I will choose my new car before the inspection on the old car is due next month.”

Oddly, many people decide on a home to buy quicker than they decide on a sofa to put in that home! Are you someone who needs to see ALL the options and invest a lot of time in making a choice, or are you a quick decision-maker? Personally, despite being a bit of a perfectionist, I am fairly decisive! What about you?