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Confident in Decision Making
January 15, 2019

How Project Managers Can Feel More Confident In Decision Making

By Simon Gorman

One of the most important parts of a project manager’s job is making decisions. You’ll be allocating resources to various projects, reprioritizing tasks, and determining if and when to reach out to clients for feedback or updates. Thanks to decision fatigue, this can take a serious toll on your mental health, and compromise your ability to make sound, fast decisions in the future.

If you want to be more confident in your decisions (and possibly make better ones along the way), there are several strategies you can call upon.

General Principles for Project Management Decision Making

To be a better decision maker in project management, there are a few general principles you’ll need to adhere to:

  • Better data. The best decisions are based on hard data, rather than impulses. If you’re going to make better decisions and feel confident in those decisions, you need to have faith that the data you’re relying on is accurate. If you’re certain about the quality of your data, you’ll feel more secure in your reasoning.

  • More accessible data. You also need to be able to access that data quickly if you’re going to be decisive. If it takes too long to hunt down the critical information you need to make a choice, you’ll spend too much time mulling it over.
  • Better backups. The lower the stakes of the decision, the less time you’ll waste contemplating it. Having a backup plan—or better yet, a few backup plans—is ideal, so you’ll feel protected even if you make a bad call.
  • Mental and emotional resilience. Finally, you’ll need to recognize the psychological components of making a decision, and guard against them.

Better Project Management Tools

All four of these general principles can be addressed if you have the right project management tool at your disposal. When you have a platform that offers the following, you’ll instantly feel more confident in every decision you make:

  • Simpler interfaces. Project management tools with simpler, more intuitive interfaces will enable you to access data more quickly. In one or two clicks, you can get to the dashboard or category you need to finalize your decision—or at least get the information you’re looking for. This is why high-level project tracking is so important—and why Project Central offers it in such a convenient package. Learn more about project tracking, and why it’s such a benefit for project managers.
  • Data visuals. You can also feel more secure in your data when it’s presented to you in a visual format. The human mind is wired to understand visual information much better than numerical information; you’ll therefore feel much more confident about your understanding of a project’s completeness when you see it presented in a chart or graph than you will if it’s presented as pure numbers (or written information). A good project management tool should allow you to customize and peruse those visuals.
  • Real-time data. Projects can change in the blink of an eye with a new development—an employee may drop out of a task, you might get new feedback or direction from the client, or an emergency may halt work. You’ll feel much more confident about your decisions is the data you’re relying on is being updated in real time. If your project management tool supports real-time collaboration, you can rest assured that the progress you see is the “real” progress for your project, and that your decisions will be as up-to-date as possible.
  • Collaborative communication. Few project managers make decisions entirely in a vacuum; they rely on the insights, estimates, and perspectives of their entire team to make the high-level calls. That’s why it’s important to have a platform that enables more collaborative communication within your team if you want to be more confident in your decisions. Being able to get a to-the-minute update on a given task or host a quick team chat can resolve your questions faster, and reinforce any assumptions you’ve made.

Psychological Tricks

There are also some mental tricks you can use to lessen the psychological burden of making a decision, and improve your confidence throughout the process:

  • Eliminate options. Instead of finding the best option for any given scenario, you can reduce fatigue and uncertainty by gradually eliminating non-preferably options. For example, instead of deciding to extend the deadline, you can start eliminating impossibilities and improbabilities that would render other options less preferable.
  • Practice being decisive. Decision making is like a mental muscle; it can tire out if you use it too frequently, but you can also strengthen it by training it over time. You can therefore build confidence in your decisions by practicing decisiveness in your regular life. Try to make decisions faster, whether you’re ordering takeout or picking out new clothes, and soon, you’ll be more confident in your decisions everywhere.
  • Seek perspectives. If you’re stuck on a key decision, ask the advice of your coworkers and subordinates. They shouldn’t determine the course of your decision, but they can help challenge some of your assumptions and introduce you to data you may not have considered otherwise.
  • Come up with proactive backup plans. If you’re charting out a potential decision, come up with a worst-case scenario—and a backup plan to handle that scenario. The more redundancy you have in your backup plans, the safer you’ll feel when finalizing those decisions.
  • Set a timer. Finally, set a timer when making your decision. This will allow you to ensure you spend a suitable amount of time researching and considering your decision, but will also prevent you from ending up with analysis paralysis.

Remember, finding the right platform is half the battle. Project Central is a platform designed to make decisions by project managers easier and clearer. And because it’s still in its early stages, it’s entirely free. Sign up for Project Central today, and get faster access to better project data—so you can start making better decisions for all your projects.

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