“Should I Do This?” A Simple Life Decision Tree

One of the truths about life is that there are *a lot* of decisions to make every day (what to wear, what to eat, how to respond to every person we encounter). We also have limited decision making capacity. In other words the more decisions we make, the less thought we are able to give to each decision.

With that, anything that can simplify the decision making process means better decisions for a longer stretch of time.

There are many ways to think about this question. You can make some simple decisions once and not have to make them again (for example, I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every weekday). On the other hand, for big decisions it is usually worth taking time and effort to make a good decision.

In the middle are decisions trees. These are structures that walk you through the decision making process in a structured way to help you get to a decision with minimum effort.

My favorite decision tree is one I created to answer the question of “should I do this?” whenever I’m asked to do something new. It’s also particularly useful when I have said yes to too many things and need to reduce a long to do list to focus on the tasks that matter. 

Here it is: 

1If you are “wealthy” (meaning you have sufficient money to do what you want) you can skip this step.
2If you are a salaried employee, you technically get paid no matter what you do as long as it doesn’t get you fired, so you need a different approach (which will be the subject of a future post).

“Don’t do it” is often the hardest option, but also the most important if you are going to have control over your own time. If it makes you nervous not to do something, first try with something small. When nothing bad happens (which is probably the case), move on to bigger things. Being confident in saying no and doing it in a compassionate and respectful way is a powerful tool on your journey. 

Give it a try if you are not sure why you are doing some of the things you are doing (often the case in a company with its inherent bureaucracy). This could be a tool that helps you get control over your time.

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