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Blog: An analytical person's guide to making decisions and planning

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analytical person decision making

AKRON (March 6, 2015) — When I watch movies, I do not just watch the plot, but instead analyze how the writer pieced together the information, how the actors must be feeling during the scene, how many takes it took to get perfection and so much more.

I find watching shows or movies with the commentary on just as entertaining — sometimes more — than watching the actual plot.

My brother once told me it is interesting to watch me speak because even when I say something abrupt or straight-to-the-point, I have already thought about all the consequences of my words, even the negative side, and deemed it worth saying anyway.

Basically, I live my life with an analytical brain — sometimes too much — but with the mission for present Jen to always help out future Jen. For instance, along with the normal balance of work and home life, this year I am also planning my wedding and house hunting. It is a lot to take on, but so far I have found that balance.

Throughout all this planning, all I hear from family and friends is how organized I am. Yes, I’m organized because if not, it is easy to miss a detail or throw in the towel altogether. Since various people keep giving me compliments on my decision making and planning skills, I thought I would throw out some ideas on how to get things done.

Here are my top five tips:

  • Be realistic. You are not going to make huge life decisions in five minutes, but you could map out a decent “To-Do” list in that time frame. For instance, if your goal is to get your whole house clean, but you can never find the time, make a list. On Sunday night, make a list of something you could do every day: Sunday, sweep floor; Monday: vacuum; Tuesday; dust; Wednesday: laundry, etc. This is a more manageable way to cross off an item each day then it is to block off six hours on a busy Saturday. This can apply to nearly anything. If your task is that you want to decide if you should take a training course, map out some time to research different avenues before you delve into making your final decision. The key is to be realistic and not take on too much too quickly; or deem too much time for something you can easily get done.
  • Set time restraints. I am great with appointments. I can work a full day of work and set appointments after work for my personal life and stick to them. However, tell me that we should plan something or get together “sometime in the future” and it probably won’t happen. I have a constant checklist in my head, so I analyze my time and put things in open slots. However, if I don’t have a time frame or guideline, it does not go into a time slot and gets lost. It is easy to have a To-Do list and never get anything done. I know because I used to do it all the time. However, once I started setting a timeline, more items started to get crossed off the list. The biggest thing to remember here is that you then have to stick to your timeline or adjust accordingly, not just push it off until later or you will run into the same problems as before.
  • Sometimes sitting on the couch is not a necessary activity in your day (sometimes it really is though!) For most of my adult life, I have worked a full time job and some form of a part-time job on the side. For two years of that, I was going to grad school as well, along with participating in other random activities. People have told me to not overwhelm myself or asked me how I can do so much in only 24 hours a day. Well the truth is, I have to remind myself — a lot — that sitting on the couch, maybe binge watching Netflix, is not a necessary daily activity. With that said, I do have that couch time at least once or twice a week. It is not about never relaxing, it is about finding the balance.
  • Pro and con lists are cheesy, but can get the job done. Sometimes information is overwhelming, especially for a big decision. With every decision we could make, there are pros and cons. If it was all positive or a resounding no, then we wouldn’t be debating it in our heads. It is difficult. If I get overwhelmed, my eye will start to twitch and I feel like my head is going to pop off. So I take a deep breath and start to break apart the decision — or whatever it is I am tackling at the moment — and do a pro and con list in my head. Sometimes I even write it down on paper.

Secondly, sometimes it helps to talk it out with another person for two reasons:

1. If you value that person's opinion, he or she may have some insight for you to consider.

2. If you find yourself asking for the person's opinion and feel the need to defend yours one way or the other, you find out where you stand on the subject.

  • Live with the decisions you make. This is the hardest one for me. I am an overanalyzer. I do look at all these different angles before and after something happens. However, once the decision is made, that’s it. It’s time to let it go and live in the decision that was made. There is no point looking back on how things could have been better or worse — unless you are planning something else and using it as a reference. My mom always says that you can’t change the past; you can only focus on now and moving forward.

All these tips may seem like a lot of work, but I think it’s a lot of work making a decision to begin with. Utilizing some of these techniques may help push things along a little faster.

______________________________________________

How do you go about planning your schedule?  Let me know! Jkarpus@crain.com or on Twitter — @jenniferkarpus

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