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Decision Making Advice for Impulsive or Indecisive Adults with ADHD

ADHD decision making tips to help you make wise decisions and choices without wasting time or rushing into things.

Last month I wrote about how difficult it is for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to make decisions. I suggested making choices based on who you want to be instead of who you’ve been in the past. That’s great advice for those big decisions like staying in college vs. going pro, but what about the small stuff? Like which GPS to buy?

There are two extremes when it comes to making decisions: People who shoot from the hip, and people who spend way too much time analyzing and ruminating, stuck in indecision. Surprisingly, the solutions are nearly the same regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on.

Here are some steps you can follow to make better decisions more easily:

• Determine how much time to spend on the decision. Set a deadline for yourself, or determine an appropriate amount of time to spend making a choice. If you tend to make impulsive decisions, this will help you be more methodical. If you usually spend too much time, this will help you rein things in.

• Define your requirements. What is your goal? Spend a few minutes thinking through what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing a college or deciding whether to accept a party invitation, being crystal clear about what you want — and why — will ensure the best outcome.

• Go on a fact-finding mission. Spend some time researching your options without evaluating them. You’re just gathering information at this point. Trying to decide before you have all the facts complicates things immensely.

• Consider the consequences of each choice. What will it cost you? What will you gain? It’s okay to consider your emotions. “I just want to” is perfectly valid, as long as you’ve considered the other factors as well.

• Compare your options to your requirements. Which option will get you closest to your goal? I use a spreadsheet for more complicated decisions like whether or not to buy a new car.

• Evaluate. Does anything jump out as the answer? If so, you’re done. If not, eliminate the options that don’t make sense and consider those that remain.

• Do the “yum-yuck” test. Think about each option, and note how it makes you feel. The one that is more “yum” than “yuck” is probably the winner.

• Follow Occam’s Razor. This is the principle that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” In other words, when all things are equal, the simplest option tends to be the best one.

• Last resort: Flip a coin. If the choice is still not clear after you’ve gone through all this, just pick something. You may be fighting perfectionist tendencies, which include a fear of being wrong. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes! If you’ve gone through this process, you’ve done everything you can to make an informed decision. You’ve done your due diligence. Make a choice and move on. Even if it doesn’t work out, you can take pride in having made a well thought out decision in a timely manner.

What are you having for dinner? What are you doing this weekend? What career will you pursue? Life is full of decisions. Here’s hoping these tips help you make them wisely.

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