Our brains simply weren’t evolved to store more than a handful of parcels of information at a time. This is a less-than-ideal circumstance for creatures who are sentient and who, at any one time, can act or think in an infinite number of ways.
Often, it seems like we only have 1, 2, or a handful of options. Even on really big decisions, we tend to limit ourselves with dichotomies, we can be crippled by fear, and our memory can only go so far. That is why, hear us out…
Lists are awesome.
Language has served humanity well, as have our brains. And, it wasn’t until we started writing that we used language to outsource our cognitive functions. Lists are a perfect example of our unique ability as a species to extend our memory using tools. You’ve probably experienced the utility of this when it comes to shopping lists or to-dos. And, making lists for decision-making is equally viable. Consider an important decision you needed to make recently. How many options did you give yourself? How about that one option you chose…did you think of other versions of that option?
Next time you’re faced with an important decision, take some space and time (a day?) to come up with at least a dozen options for how to handle the situation. If the challenge is large enough, endeavor for 25 or more in the span of a week. Unless deeply extreme, it is hard to think of situations with only a handful of options, right?
If you are interested in software that can help, we like Evernote, which syncs across your devices and makes listing a breeze.