Decision Making: Simplifying Choices for Busy Working Dads

Life is full of decisions, and making good ones is key to managing our work and personal lives effectively. For busy working dads – very much myself included – who often need to balance careers with family responsibilities and personal goals, making smart, quick decisions are especially important.

The challenges are real: balancing a demanding job or business while ensuring you’re there for your family and also finding time for personal growth. Each choice you make, no matter how small, affects not only you but your entire family. That’s why it’s crucial to have a straightforward way to handle these decisions, so you can do more with your time and stress less.

Enter a practical approach inspired by Jeff Bezos’ decision-making strategy, which breaks down decisions into two levels: reversible and irreversible. This simple framework can help you decide faster and more confidently, whether you’re choosing what to cook for dinner or considering a job change.

In this article, we’ll explore how applying Bezos’ method can make decision-making clearer and more manageable, giving you back more time to focus on what truly matters—your family and your career.

You may also find benefit from the Dads In Business article focussing on attitudes to risk. Check it out!

Factors Leading to Indecision and Analysis Paralysis

1. Overload of Information: In today’s digital age, we often have access to an overwhelming amount of information. While having various data points can be useful, too much information can make it difficult to decide what’s relevant. This overload can stall decision-making processes as individuals struggle to sift through and prioritize information effectively.

2. Fear of Making the Wrong Decision: The worry about making a mistake or choosing poorly can be paralyzing. This fear is especially potent when dealing with irreversible or high-stakes decisions (Level 2 decisions). The potential negative outcomes or the pressure of getting it “perfect” can lead to significant delays or complete avoidance of making a decision.

3. Lack of Clear Objectives: Without a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved, making any decision can be difficult. Unclear goals lead to uncertainty about which options will best achieve the desired outcome, making it hard to even start the decision-making process.

Risks of Not Making Better Decisions

Missed Opportunities: Delaying decisions or failing to make them altogether can lead to missed opportunities. In a professional context, this could mean missing out on a profitable venture, a promotion, or a chance to lead a project. Personally, it might mean missing out on investments, educational opportunities for children, or meaningful family experiences.

Decreased Productivity: Indecision and prolonged deliberation consume time and mental energy, which could otherwise be directed towards productive activities. In work settings, this can affect performance, leading to delayed projects and missed deadlines. At home, it can disrupt personal plans and family activities, causing stress and dissatisfaction.

Erosion of Confidence: Repeated indecision can erode an individual’s confidence in their ability to make decisions. This can create a vicious cycle where the fear of making decisions leads to more indecision, impacting personal and professional relationships and hindering overall growth.

Understanding these factors and risks highlights the importance of developing strong decision-making skills. It sets the stage for exploring effective strategies that can help busy working dads (and indeed anyone) to make smarter, quicker decisions, enhancing both their professional success and personal happiness.

Section 1: Understanding Decision Making Theories

Decision making is a complex cognitive process influenced by a myriad of psychological theories and practical strategies. To navigate this landscape, it’s essential to grasp some foundational theories that underpin how we make choices.

Overview of Theories

1. Rational Decision Making: This theory posits that individuals make decisions by systematically identifying their goals, exploring all possible alternatives, evaluating each alternative against their goals, and then selecting the strategy that best satisfies their needs. While ideally comprehensive, this model assumes a level of information and time availability that busy working dads might not always have.

2. Behavioural Economics: This field examines how psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural, and social factors affect the economic decisions individuals make. Unlike rational decision making, behavioural economics recognizes that humans are not always rational actors and are influenced by biases and irrational behaviours.

3. Cognitive Biases: These are systematic patterns of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Common biases that affect decision-making include confirmation bias (favouring information that conforms to your existing beliefs), anchoring (relying too heavily on the first piece of information seen), and loss aversion (preferring to avoid losses rather than acquiring equivalent gains).

Jeff Bezos’ Level 1 & 2 Decision Making

Jeff Bezos conceptualized decision-making into two distinct levels, each suited to different types of decisions and circumstances, which can be particularly useful for managing the diverse challenges faced by working dads.

Level 1 Decisions: These are reversible and less impactful decisions that do not require extensive deliberation. Bezos suggests treating these decisions like “two-way doors” where you can back out if you realize it’s not working. For a busy dad, this might involve daily choices like trying a new route to work or experimenting with a different productivity tool. These decisions can be made quickly to maintain flexibility and responsiveness in a fast-paced environment.

Level 2 Decisions: In contrast, Level 2 decisions are like “one-way doors” that, once passed through, are difficult or impossible to reverse. These decisions have significant consequences and demand more thorough analysis and careful deliberation. Examples might include choosing a new home, deciding on a child’s education path, or making career moves that significantly affect work-life balance. These are the decisions that warrant gathering extensive information, consulting with family or trusted advisors, and weighing long-term impacts more heavily.

Understanding these decision-making frameworks can empower busy working dads to categorise their decisions efficiently and apply the appropriate amount of energy and resources. By distinguishing between Levels 1 and 2, dads can avoid expending unnecessary mental effort on routine choices and focus their strategic thinking on matters that have profound implications for their family’s future. This structured approach not only enhances decision-making efficiency but also helps in maintaining a balanced and fulfilling personal and professional life.

Following the overview of decision-making theories and Jeff Bezos’ Levels 1 and 2 framework, it’s clear that understanding and implementing these concepts can profoundly impact a busy working dad’s life. Here’s how you can apply this knowledge in practical ways and measure the expected outcomes, highlighting the benefits of improved decision-making skills.

Applying the Learning

1. Categorise Your Decisions: Begin by classifying decisions into Level 1 (reversible) and Level 2 (irreversible). This helps in identifying which choices need quick action and which require more thought. For instance, choosing a new app to track tasks or deciding on dinner options are Level 1 decisions—easy to make and reverse. Decisions like moving to a new city or changing jobs are Level 2 and need thorough analysis.

2. Implement Decision-Making Tools: For Level 1 decisions, use tools like simple checklists or decision-making apps that speed up the process. For Level 2 decisions, techniques such as SWOT analysis (assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a decision) or decision trees can offer deeper insights and guide your choices.

3. Consult and Delegate: Share decision-making responsibilities with your partner or family when appropriate, especially for Level 2 decisions. This not only distributes the load but also provides different perspectives, enhancing the decision quality.

Measuring Outcomes

To gauge the effectiveness of your decision-making process, set clear metrics based on the nature of the decision:

Time Spent: Track the time taken to reach decisions. A successful application of the framework should lead to quicker decisions for Level 1 and more deliberate timing for Level 2.

Outcome Satisfaction: Periodically assess how satisfied you are with the outcomes of your decisions. This could be through a simple rating system or reflective journaling.

Feedback: For personal decisions involving family or career, seek feedback from those affected to understand the impact and areas for improvement.

Expected Benefits

Improved Efficiency: By categorizing decisions, you’ll spend less time deliberating on minor choices and more on important ones, optimizing how you use your time each day.

Reduced Stress: Knowing that you can reverse Level 1 decisions can reduce anxiety about making “perfect” choices. For Level 2 decisions, using a structured approach provides confidence that you’ve considered all critical aspects.

Enhanced Quality of Life: Making better decisions leads to better outcomes, whether it’s choosing the right financial investments or planning family activities. Each good decision builds a stronger foundation for your family’s well-being.

Better Role Modelling: Demonstrating effective decision-making to your children teaches them valuable life skills. They learn the importance of thoughtful consideration and the benefits of structured thinking.

By applying these strategies and measuring their outcomes, you can continually refine your decision-making skills. This not only benefits your professional and personal life but also sets a powerful example for your family, showing that good decision-making is a key component of a successful and balanced life.

Further Resources supporting the development of better decision making.


    • The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon” by Steve Anderson. This book decodes the principles that Jeff Bezos used to grow Amazon into a massive corporation. It particularly focuses on his approach to risk-taking and decision-making, which can be adapted for personal use.
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman’s seminal work introduces the dual-process theory of the mind and explains how our two systems of thought—fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, deliberate thinking—shape our judgments and decisions.
    • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. This book explores how various policy and personal decisions are affected by human psychology, offering insights on how to make better choices in everyday life.

2. Apps and Tools

    • Utilise decision-making apps like “Decision Making Wheel” or “ChoiceMap”, which help streamline everyday choices through user-friendly interfaces. See more from Tech Crunch about the benefits of Choice App.
    • Trello and Asana for task management can help in organising tasks and decisions, especially useful for categorising and prioritising as per Bezos’ two-level decision framework.

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

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Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.