How to make a snap decision in under a month

One day, I’d like to be the sort of person who can make a decision as quick as blinking.  I’m getting there; these days, I can choose what I want for lunch in around five to ten minutes – a process that, in the past, lasted anywhere from half an hour until dinner time the next day.

The ability to make a decision seems to depend on the time available.  When it comes to lunch, there’s a finite time frame that handily dictates the speed at which a decision must be made; when it comes to life choices, the time frame is unknown, which leads to decisions being put off until next week.  Or next month.  Or sometime next June.

What are you like when it comes to making decisions?  Would you care to join me on this beginner’s guide to making quick decisions in under a month?

BLOG Snap Decision Pinterest

You may think that a decision made in a month doesn’t quite fall into the category of ‘quick’, but it really depends on the decision itself.  And when it comes to making changes in how you go about things in life, it generally pays to do it gradually.  For instance, I weaned myself off sugar in tea by reducing my spoonful one grain at a time.  This habit has lasted.  On the other hand, my snap decision to take up running is a distant memory of stupid workout tops rolling up when I tried to put them on and sore knees.

So, grain-by-grain it is.

Week 1: Want vs. Need

We have ridiculous amounts of disposable income compared with our grandparents and this is making it easy to forget that a lot of the things we think we need are just things we really want.  Enough clothes to go without doing the laundry for an entire month?  That’s a want.  Really fast internet?  That’s a want.  (It’s a want I want a lot, though.)  The latest mobile phone with all of the shiny things?  That’s a want.

So this decision you’re making: is it a want or a need?  It’s a big question, which is why you need to take a week over it.  Your wants and needs are different from everyone else’s, too.  For instance, the really fast internet I mentioned above is just a want for me and the Chef, but it could be a need for you if you work from home or are on your way to becoming a YouTube superstar.  (Or is everyone on periscope now?)

Tip: Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.  In the last month, I’ve gone from thinking I need a set of 1930s railway travel poster prints, to a paid theme for my new website, to a Mixmaster for Christmas, to an expensive book on pattern drafting.  Out of the four, I was only meant to be considering the paid theme, but now I have a Mixmaster waiting until Christmas day and I’m currently researching which pattern drafting book I should get.  At least I ruled out the travel posters early on, even if I do daydream about having them in my study from time to time.

Learn from my example: any distractions will blow out your decision-making time by several weeks.  Focus!

Week 2: Reflect

So you’ve figured out your need is actually a need and it’s going to improve your life in some way.  Excellent!  There’s no need to rush into anything yet – we still have three weeks of the month to go.  This is your time to reflect, to anticipate, to decide if it’s worth it.  Here are a few points for consideration in this second week:

Do you already have something like it?
Every now and then, I convince myself I need a new sewing machine, since I try to make as many of my own clothes as possible and need appropriate tools for same. The fact is, my current sewing machine actually works OK, so this is actually a want masquerading as a need.  Make sure this isn’t happening to you, too.

Is it going to cost more than it’s worth to you?
You may need this thing, but at what cost?  Is it really worth choosing that fancy restaurant for lunch if you’re only a little bit peckish?  Is $200 a month a price you’re willing to pay for faster internet?  I believe it’s always worth making an investment if you’re going to end up with an item of highly quality and endurance, but only if it helps you in some way.

Can you ask someone for advice?
It’s always helpful to have someone else’s opinion, even if they end up pointing out all of the flaws in your reasoning or telling you a story of how they made the same decision and it was the worst thing ever.  (Whenever I ask the Chef’s advice on such matters, his answer is always ‘Just buy it’.  So he’s a wonderful enabler but not so great with the pros and cons.)  This advice does not have to come from someone you know, of course: the internet is full of people with opinions who have written or shared reviews.  Make use of this.

Tip: Be prepared for this advice to change everything.  For example, I thought I’d settled on which pattern drafting book to buy until I read reviews that made me think twice.  Having looked at different options and read further reviews, I may be back where I started, but at least I feel more informed.

This reflection week is all about being truthful.  It’s also about tea, because nothing brings on a bout of reflection like a nice cuppa and a biscuit.

Week 3: Pause

There’s no point rushing into anything, is there?  Take a week to stop thinking about your decision.  Smell the roses, if that’s your thing (and they’re available to smell).  Focus on work instead of endlessly searching for reviews and best prices in between your actual tasks.  In short: forget you’re trying to make a decision and dedicate your thoughts towards choosing a sandwich filling for your lunch.

By the end of this week, you’ll know for sure if you still need to make this decision because it will be at the forefront of your mind.  If it’s not, then good news!  Your subconscious has done all the hard work for you and decided that you don’t need this thing after all.  Take the rest of the month off.

Tip: Be ruthless this week.  Any time you catch yourself thinking about your decision or heading to google for a bit more research, stop!  This pause is intended to truly assess the strength and importance of this need.

Week 4: Time for Action

This is it.  You’ve done some serious thinking; you’ve drunk some serious cups of tea; you’ve had a week to pause and you’ve decided that yes, you do need this thing.  It is not a want, it makes sense financially, and you’re still keen on it after your week of pausing.  So do it!  And leave off making any decisions for the next month – you’ve already worked hard enough.

Tip: Once you’ve decided to act, act!  Don’t be like me and hold back in anticipation of regret.  Throw yourself into it and reward yourself for a job well done: a quick decision made before the month was out.

What are your tips for making decisions?  Can you do it on the fly, or do you need time to consider?  I’d love to learn more about this tricky art myself, so please share your thoughts in the comments.

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/anne... 20th December 2015 - 12:02 pm

How are you going with choosing a pattern drafting book? If you live within the Eastern Regional Library Service area, there are about half a dozen drafting books, including the enormous (both in size and price) Armstrong book. Try before you buy 🙂 However, I don’t think you can go wrong starting with Winifred Aldrich – probably the easiest for teach-yourself, and best of all not one you’ll ever grow out of, either. Best of all, she’s metric!

Katie Writes Stuff 20th December 2015 - 6:54 pm

Thank-you so much for this! As it happens, I am in the ERL area, so I have reserved a copy of the Armstrong book, which was one of my options – I can’t wait to have a look at it. I’m also considering the original 1970s edition of Adele Margolis’s How to Design Your Own Dress Patterns (not the newer version, which I believe only covers altering existing patterns). I haven’t come across Winifred Aldrich thus far, so I’ll be checking her out next. Thanks!

/anne... 20th December 2015 - 7:12 pm

Winifred Aldrich is the text I used at tech (I did pattern drafting as part of costume design). It’s widely used as a textbook, and unlike Armstrong, it works well as a teach-yourself book, and is easy to read. She also has other books including the only kids pattern drafting book I can find that covers newborns, and a good menswear book.

I’m not a fan of Armstrong – partly because she’s mostly writing for pattern drafting for production; she’s not interested in drafting to fit a particular figure.

I thought I had Margolis – maybe it’s wandered from my book case.

Another worth looking out for is Natale Bray, if you like vintage – lots of inspiration. They can turn up in second-hand bookshops or Ebay.

A book I love that’s really simple – great for anyone who likes hacking patterns, although there are instructions for drafting a block – is Creative Cutting by Diana Hawkins. It also has lots of basic sewing info. It’s my favourite for looking up stuff like inserting a fly, plackets and welt pockets.

If you don’t already use it, check out Booko for the cheapest (both new and second hand prices) – it includes shipping prices in the calculation!

Katie Writes Stuff 20th December 2015 - 7:22 pm

You’re amazing – thank-you! I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about the Armstrong book and people either seem to look upon it as a bible or regard it as inaccessible. It seems as though the latest edition has removed an entire section on fixing fitting issues, too, which would seem to be the whole point of making your own patterns in the first place. It’ll be good to have a look at it for myself before deciding whether it’s worth the investment.

I do love vintage, which is why I have my eye on Margolis (the editions I’m currently contemplating on eBay are actually the 1959 one – perfect for someone who adores 1950s style!). All of these names are going on my list now – I’m so grateful to you for sharing them.

Katie Writes Stuff 20th December 2015 - 6:51 pm

Yep, that sounds like me, too. Perhaps I should add a little section about dealing with the almost inevitable consequences of missing out on what you may or may not want before you’ve made up your mind…

Thanks for your comment! 🙂

halfwayquilter 20th December 2015 - 11:58 pm

When I’m making a serious decision I like to make lists. Pros, cons, other peoples thought it all goes in the mix. And then if I’m still not sure I folow my dad’s advice – when in doubt do nothing! So a month seems like a reasonable time to come up with answer …?…… but then again I do rather like an impulse buy! So I guess what I’m saying is ……dont come to me for advice, I’ll only dither!

Katie Writes Stuff 21st December 2015 - 3:39 pm

When in doubt, do nothing – I love it! It saves money and it certainly works as a test for whether you want something or not. I must admit, there have been a few things I desperately wanted but ended up not buying and I haven’t missed a single one of them. Plus, there’s always something new to want next…

leeyongsoo 23rd December 2015 - 4:44 pm

That Anne is a helpful lady! When I next have a bout of “I should really learn how to draft patterns properly” I will come back and refer to this post (and head to my library.. I’m in the ERL area too.. hmm maybe we should do a library date?)

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd January 2016 - 10:48 pm

It’s a fantastic list of resources, isn’t it? For some reason, I thought you were more inner city than outer east – I have no idea why. Between us, we’d probably exhaust the entire range of patternmaking books at the libraries…

leeyongsoo 4th January 2016 - 9:08 am

I was inner city for a year until June last year, now I’m back in the ancestral pile out in the sticks. Coffee at ERL library offer is ongoing!

Katie Writes Stuff 8th January 2016 - 7:10 pm

They do have that café at the Ringwood one now… Now I just have to see if my social awkwardness can be offset by the fact that we are both crazy cat ladies who enjoy scrounging about in op shops and should thus have plenty to talk about!

Emma @ A Hand Stitched Life 2nd January 2016 - 6:32 pm

I love this! I am horrible at making decisions. I’m either totally impulsive (hello 3m of fabric I have no need for but just like the feel of!) or crazily hesitant (That $12 set of drawers from Kmart that match everything in my house and would fit perfectly on my console table that I haven’t bought 12 times until my mum saw them and decided I needed them). I’m going to have to try and put this plan into place.

Katie Writes Stuff 3rd January 2016 - 10:47 pm

It’s a great way to take the pressure off! Although I’m afraid it will do nothing for those impulse purchases, the blame for which I lie at the feet of 40% off sales at Spotlight, curse them.


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