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:
- The situation or context;
- The problem statement or frame;
- The variables that govern the situation;
- The complications or complexity as you see it;
- Alternatives that were seriously considered and why they were not chosen; (think: the work required to have an opinion).
- A paragraph explaining the range of outcomes
- 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.)
- Time of day the decision was made and how you feel physically and mentally (if you’re tired, for example, write it down.)