How to Make Great Decisions Tossing Coins

Day in and day out, you make decisions, some easy, some hard, some simple, some complex. Having to do so many decisions can become taxing; every decision demands its share of mind power and emotional energy.

Yet, the stream of decisions doesn’t stop. It starts early in the morning with you having to decide what you’re going to have for breakfast; what are you going to wear for work; etc. And, later on in the day, it continues with decisions, such as: How should we solve this problem? Who should be involved? When should we start working on it? etc.

Many times, we labor on making a decision but all that labor doesn’t change the outcome that much. In many of these cases, tossing a coin and moving on is the best decision-making strategy—at least it’s as good as any other.

When Your Options Are Equal

Let’s say you conducted interviews for a vacant position in your organization. At the end of the recruiting process, two candidates are left, and you deem them equally qualified. However, you only have one position, and thus, must choose.

After many deliberations, you still can’t give the edge to any of the candidates; they’re equally excellent. What do you do?

Well, in such situations, many people stress about the decision, and afraid to make the wrong decision, they keep postponing making a choice. They forget that they have already established that one way or the other, it’s going to be a great decision; based on the assessments both candidates are equally excellent. Thus, choosing one or the other is great. No need to stress about the decision. They just have to make the decision.

They forget that they have already established that choosing one candidate or the other is a great decision; both are excellent. No need to stress about the decision. They just have to make the decision.

When you’re in such a situation, toss a coin (or do “ini-mini-mani-mo…”) and move on.

When There Are Low Consequences

When a decision has low consequences, you’re better off making the decision and using your time for more important activities. Some decisions, you just have to make them as quickly as possible and move on.

What are you going to wear today? Who cares? Toss a coin and move on.

What are your going to have for breakfast? It doesn’t matter. Toss a coin and move on.

On most days, there’s no point of laboring trying to decide what you are going to wear or what you are going to have for breakfast. These won’t change your day that much, and laboring on them is draining your “decision-energy” for no reason. And if you’re not careful, when it comes time to make an important decision, you’re depleted and don’t have enough energy to tackle that decision.

Some people have resolved this issue altogether by eliminating this type of decision from their lives. Some have decided to wear the exact same clothes every day. They buy 5 pairs of identical pants and shirts, and every day they take a pair of pants and a shirt and wear it.

Others eat the same breakfast every day. Yes, every day, It’s the same. No variations. No improvisation. Every day, they have their bowl of cereal with milk and protein powder with a side fruit.

If you’re not ready to go to that extent, tossing a coin will do.

When Indecision Costs More than Any of Your Choices (and You’re Pressed for Time)

Imagine someone stops you in the streets, takes out their wallet and says to you, “I’m going to give you money, but you have 10 seconds to tell me what you want or you get nothing. Do you want $100 US dollars or $180 Canadian dollars?” The options are not exactly equal; the value depends on the exchange rate.

You may not know the exchange rate off the top of your head and you don’t have time to look it up. But does it matter either way? Not that much. If you don’t answer in the next 10 seconds, you lose both options. Toss a coin, choose and move on.

When indecision is the worst option (i.e indecision is inferior to any of the available options), you’re better off tossing a coin and choosing than remaining in indecision.

Some decisions you just have to make them as quickly as possible and move on. Wasting time in indecision isn’t warranted nor useful. When have to, toss a coin, make the decision, and don’t look back.