Decision Journal

I’ve read in different papers on productivity the proposal of keeping a decision journal. The idea is simple: everytime you make a decision, you write it down on a diary, with the expected outcome.  After some time you review it, try to decide whether it was a good decision or not, and what can you learn from it. 

I’ve tried once, but I rapidly realize that most of my decisions where just gut feelings and trying to write it down was just a silly attempt to make them sound rational. 

But after reading this post from Shane Parrish, I decided to give it a second try. First, he links the decision journal not so much to everyday decisions -like where to spend the next holidays or what present you should buy to your spouse-but to work related decisions. He quotes a very interesting interview to Daniel Kahneman where he states that “in most knowledge organizations your product is decisions”, and that strikes me as very relevant to improve the way I work, if I’m able to take better decisions.

The post describes how to keep and how to use a decision diary. The eight relevant items to describe a decisions are as follows:

  1. The situation or context;
  2. The problem statement or frame;
  3. The variables that govern the situation;
  4. The complications or complexity as you see it;
  5. Alternatives that were seriously considered and why they were not chosen; (think: the work required to have an opinion).
  6. A paragraph explaining the range of outcomes
  7. A paragraph explaining what you expect to happen and, importantly, the reasoning and actual probabilities you assign to each. (The degree of confidence matters, a lot.)
  8. Time of day the decision was made and how you feel physically and mentally (if you’re tired, for example, write it down.)




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