Welcome toPractical Magic! A productivity and intentional living newsletter with quick, actionable tips that automate, delegate, or speed up your work.
Read time: 4.5 minutes
Most of us Google or ask our networks: “What tool is best for XYZ?”
And most blog posts and people say “[Insert tool name]!!!!!” or “It really depends!”
Without any further explanation.
With all the best intentions…that is so freaking unhelpful 🤣
It Does Depend…But There Is A Method To Make A Decision.
Here’s what we do when we make a decision:
- See someone we admire use a specific tool. Feel that this will elevate us to their level…and then spend weeks migrating to that tool.
- Emerge red-eyed and bleary from reading our 10th blog post on a $30/month tool.
- Spend 20 hours analyzing 5 different tools to find the best “bang for your buck” (without considering that your own hourly rate is $100/hour).
- Outsource our decision to the opinions of internet strangers who don’t understand our working style, our business, or our personality.
Your time costs money. In fact, your time is invaluable. Look at the way you spend your time through the lens of ROI, i.e. return on investment.
Look at every decision and say, “Can you afford me?” (Preferably followed with a hair flip and finger snap.)
90% of decisions are not worth the time we spend on them.
I’ll show you how to make decisions faster with three simple questions.
I use “choosing a new tool” as an example because I see people get spun around on this a lot. But you can apply this checklist to any decision.
Step 1: Do You Really Need This?
I’m giving a little tough love because I used to need it myself: we don’t need most of the sh*t we think we do.
When we get stuck, we tend to look for distractions. Pesky distractions disguised as “solutions.” Usually what we need is to keep on keeping on or optimize what we already have better.
So yes, the promises of a tool might seem amazing. But sometimes it’s a symptom of something else.
I created a system to help with this. My “Wishlist System.” (Without systems in place, it’s hard to create change.)
I used to be a major impulse buyer. I can be an impulsive person who’s swept up by excitement and inspiration. Don’t get me wrong – that has created a lot of fun experiences in my life. I like that about myself!
But it also created a huge dent in my wallet.
More importantly, it was crushing my long-term dreams for money and time freedom. I was spending money on things I couldn’t afford and losing money in interest fees.
I created a system to put all my “wants” into a wishlist. It took me a few weeks to get consistent with it, but it’s been life-changing. This allows me to run my solo-business with 86% – 94% net profit margins. (The lower amount is when I’m investing in marketing more heavily.)
Practical Action Steps:
- Put it on the list. When I want to buy anything, I place that item on my wishlist (screenshot above). I’m not joking when I say anything. I once had a toilet seat cover on my wishlist. (Spoiler alert: I bought it.)
- Wait one week. This is the sweet spot for me. I tried 48 hours, but my unbridled enthusiasm for useless crap lasted that long so I was still making poor decisions. Find a timing that works best for you.
- Make the decision. If you realize you don’t need it, move that item to a “Don’t Buy” list as a visual reminder that you already made up your mind. If you still want it, buy it. Enjoy!
- Review monthly. No matter how long we wait, sometimes purchases end up being a waste. Despite all our research and best intentions. Don’t beat yourself up about it! This is actually information GOLD! On your wishlist, have a space where you can mark items where you had buyer’s remorse. It will motivate behavior change the next time when you see it on your list.
All my other tips are on how to create decisions faster. Sometimes it’s important to take a pause and connect to your “why” first. This is that step.
Step 2: Does This Tool Offer A Free Trial Or Low-Cost Monthly Plan?
Yes? Consider this a no barrier entry. Stop spending another minute on this decision.
Practical Action Steps:
- Sign-up when you know you have time to use the tool (i.e. don’t waste your free trial).
- Don’t sign-up for the annual plan to “save money.” (More on why below)
- Spend 1 – 2 weeks giving this new tool a try.
Has something improved? Awesome! I still spend a few months on the monthly plan to make sure I can’t live without it. Only then will I sign-up for the annual plan. This is because I review my overhead expenses monthly and look at what I can cut. (Low overhead = higher profit margins!) You can’t immediately cut expenses if you already paid for something for the year.
Are you spending more time than it’s saving? This is natural for a few days, but if this causes you to spin every time you use it, cancel. Stick with what you know you can do quickly.
Step 3: What Is The Amount Of Time I’m Willing To Spend On This Decision?
Let’s make this a simple equation. Ready?
Take your hourly rate divided by the cost of the tool and then…throw that out the window and put a timer on for 1-hour.
Now, go to town on research. Get lost in Reddit forums. Click on ads that will now follow you around for weeks. Ask the advice of the spam bot that claims your Netflix account is compromised.
At the end of that hour, choose the tool you’re thinking about the most. End of decision.
There are very few tools in this modern world that are worth spending hours of research on. As a tech implementation expert, with thousands of hours spent on tech, I say that with confidence.
I welcome anyone to convince me otherwise! Inbox is open!
Typically when a tool is “bad,” the problem is the systems and processes around that tool. Not the tool itself.
When It Matters
Now, don’t get me wrong – tools matter, features matter. To a certain extent.
A tool with intuitive design and seamless functionality might save a non-tech savvy person hours per week.
Alternatively, a tool is not going to fix an employee with poor time management. Training that employee on how to manage time more effectively would have far more impact.
This is the gist: If we want a life with more time freedom, we need to make decisions faster.
You are worth it.
Always in your corner,
If you implement any of these tips or learn something interesting, I’d love to hear from you! Just reply to this email or connect with me on social.
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