Choice Overload: Too Many Options Lead To Decision Paralysis And Procrastination

(Last Updated On: October 14, 2019)

To describe what choice overload is, we’ll delve into a habitual example: have you ever been in the shop to pick up a simple item, say a jar of jam, and then be overwhelmed by the plethora of choices?

Choice overload - In a world where we have Too Many Choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is Just Ignore Stuff Seth Godin

We all experienced that. If we have too many options to choose from, we will eventually postpone the decision altogether. In other words, too many choices can lead to procrastination, and that can be a big problem.

Too many options – you can be crippled by too many choices especially if you don’t know what your goals are – Chip Kidd

Choice Overload Will Make You Lose Opportunities

In our Jam example, the consequences are not that bad. In the worst case, things go out to put our toast on.

At other times, this delay can cost us a lot.

Let’s say you are in the market for a new apartment and your broker offers you too many great options. You postponed the final decision, and if you do, someone else has torn your favorite apartment right under your nose.

Too much choice paralysis – too many choices can overwhelm us and cause us not to choose at all – Sheena IyengarHere’s another example.

Let’s say your company offers a great 401K program with matching posts. All you have to do is register, but you cannot decide which of the many funds is right for you. You postpone it month by month and lose the corresponding contributions while you hesitate.

 

Too much choice paralysis works this subtle way. You lose time, determination, focus, momentum and with it little or big opportunities.

Decision Paralysis Leads To Procrastination

Too many options lead to decision paralysis, and decision paralysis leads to procrastination. Making decision is the core link between your purposes and your actions. If this is common problem for you, it is going to affect your everyday life.

Decision paralysis – we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision - Elizabeth Gilbert

Choice overload is such an important topic that is also studied in behavioral economics about the decision process people make to buy products.So, how can overcome this choice overload and make quicker decisions?

From Choice Overload To Cutting Down Your Choices

Your first step should always be to do what you can to reduce your options. For example, if you look at our overwhelming amount of marmalade, you can reduce your choice by considering only strawberry and raspberry jams made without artificial sweeteners.

When it comes to the housing example, you can start by removing the least favorite from the list. If you move there with other people, let them do the same. Suddenly the decisions seem a bit more manageable.

Not Choosing Is Not a Good Strategy When You Have Choice Paralysis

Of course, we already know this, but often don’t know how to address it. A good strategy to get acquainted with it and start to overcome choice overload is to imagine for a moment that is ok not to decide, and focus on what the consequences will be if you do not decide.

Choice paralysis – Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile ― Bertrand Russell

We have already talked about it. How are going things if you won’t decide? They are going to help you or cost you a lot?

Focus on this for your particular situation and use them as motivation to decide for yourself. Sometimes any of your options will be better than the worst consequences of not deciding. If this happens also in your case, get braver and do choose. You’ll have nothing to lose and for sure a lot to learn.

Add Time Pressure To Overcome Choice Overload

Finally, you should put yourself under time pressure. Dig out the old kitchen clock or open an app on your phone and force yourself to dial within a minute or two. When you see how the timer works, act quickly and think about what you want. It helps you to make this difficult choice.

Too Many Options Become Decision Fatigue

Choice overload - If You Chase Two Rabbits BOTH Will Escape - Unknown

Too many options are a clear source of choice overload, that quickly becomes decision fatigue. If you don’t choose, you’ll lock your energy and decision fatigue will cumulate. And if you are not fast enough, choice paralysis will finally come out.

Cutting choices will help you to avoid this trap. The ability to cut choices is a skill like many others. You must accept you’ll survive even without that particular option and let it go. Then you’ll focus on others and you’ll be less overwhelmed.

We have already seen the importance of decision making in your life. Don’t let choice overload kill your opportunities, even worse don’t let this become a habit, or you risk to regret them for the rest of your life.

To start getting rid of decision fatigue from your life and improve your decision-making, engage in my Overcoming Decision Fatigue 5-Days Challenge.

Just click below, get your workbook with reflections and exercises, and go on.

5 days start believing in yourself challenge  

 

See you next time!

Mark Tern

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