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What Is Routine Decision Making: How It Works

Routine decision-making is something we all do multiple times every day without even thinking about it. We all have routines that we go through every day, and each time we go through these routines, we weigh options and make decisions about what to do and what not to do.

We may decide whether or not to eat breakfast. We may decide what to wear, who to see, or where to study. Routine decisions are something that most of us make every day without even thinking about it because it has become routine.

How Do Decisions Affect Your Routine?

Everyone has a ritual that they follow throughout the day, and everyone has to make strategic decisions at some point in their lives.

Maybe you have a routine that you start or end your day with. In other cases, you know there are events beyond your control that trigger a series of actions. However, before you can develop an effective personal routine, you need to figure out how to make better decisions for yourself.

Your routine of waking up at a certain time, taking care of yourself, and then going to bed at the same time, even on weekends (okay, maybe not weekends), has become an ingrained habit. But even if your body has adjusted to your sleep schedule and you continue to do what’s considered normal-go to work, meet up with friends, or whatever else you want to do- you at least have some control over how your days unfold.

The Types of Decisions Most Often Made

  • The first and most common type of individual decision you make is routine decisions. These are daily decisions (or programmed decisions) that you give little or no thought to. They are usually habitual or instinctive, such as what you eat, wear, and do every day. They don’t require you to make a strategic decision.
  • The second type of decision you make is personal nonroutine decision making. As the name implies, these are decisions that are not part of your daily routine and require a certain amount of thought. For example, deciding how to spend your money or time on a weekend is a personal, nonroutine decision.
  • The third type is public nonroutine decision making. These are decisions that affect others in your family, workplace, or community. Examples include choosing a major, whether to change jobs, organization or a purchasing decision like where to go on vacation. It’s a longer decision process than programmed decisions.
  • At work, you may have to make policy decisions or operational decisions, some of which may involve non-routine decisions.

Routine Decisions Are Made Systematically

Whether it’s micro routine decisions like navigating an app: e.g. where do I click now, or a more in-depth routine decision like: What should I eat now?

No matter what you do: If you have a family, kids, a job, school, or retirement – you have routines. If you are curious about your own routine decision-making process, you have come to the right place!

They don’t require extensive decision-making. Routine decisions can be developed over time because you have a pattern of how you make them. When you become aware of your decision-making habits, you can begin to make better decisions for yourself and for the world around you.

The 3 main types of decision making

1. Personal Routine Decision Making

A personal decision makes up the core of your life. They are the small decisions you make every day that determines how you spend your time, energy, and money.

These decisions are about your personal freedom. You get to decide what you want to do when you want to do it and with whom you want to do it.

Your daily personal routine is part of your daily decision-making process. These are all personal choices that we make without thinking about them, but they are choices nonetheless.

Some examples: Eating, bedtime, wake-up time, calling friends or relatives, watching a movie, doing laundry. If you have a routine that you follow every day, these decisions will come much easier. You can just stick to what you normally do. For this reason, many people get into the habit of always eating the same foods or waking up at the same time every morning.

2. Professional Routine Decision Making Process

When we think of a programmed decision, most people think of the choices we make for our personal lives. But there’s another kind of routine decision-making process that can affect your productivity and efficiency at work.

These are the most important decisions you make for your professional life because sometimes they are operational decisions that can lead to more efficient managers or employees within an organization.

Developing and sticking to routine operational decisions at work can help you get more tasks done, grow your organization faster, and increase your overall productivity.

For example:

First thing in the morning (even before I open my email), I look at my calendar to know what I need to get done that day. Then I open my inbox as soon as I turn on my computer. I usually start the day with a full inbox and remove all junk mail first thing in the morning so I can get a clear picture of what’s in there and what needs to get done first.

Before lunch, I check my calendar again to make sure everything is up to date.

Before I leave work, I update my calendar and recurring appointments (one-on-one meetings, weekly team meetings, etc.) for the coming days. It helps me not to have to make tactical decisions on an hourly basis because I usually have a limited amount of time to make decisions.

3. Routine Consumer Decisions

Routine consumer decision-making is usually about everyday necessities: Food, clothing, toiletries, etc., or low involvement products.

These are products that we all buy regularly without thinking about it, e.g. cereal for breakfast, shower gel is part of our natural consumer behavior, we don’t need a long consumer decision process for it.

For example, when a consumer makes the purchase decision to buy a shampoo, he goes to a store, looks for his favorite brand, and buys it without giving it much thought. It requires limited decision-making where the consumer does not have to think much and process information.

This type of consumer decision-making is very simple, it’s a quick purchase decision where the person doesn’t have to foresee the future consequences of such individual decisions and the possible problems that could occur with the product in the future.

The routine consumer decision-making process doesn’t require specific decision-making styles, the person’s decision process is automatic. The consumer has developed a certain attitude towards a brand due to their previous experiences with it and does not want to try anything new.

This type of buying decision is part of consumer behavior. Therefore, routine purchase decisions make consumers unlikely to investigate or compare alternative brands of the same product. They are likely to buy the brand they are familiar with and used to because their past experience tells them it is a good decision.

How to Make Better Routine Decision Making

If you identify a recurring limited problem or an extensive problem that becomes part of your routine, it is likely that it is related to the need to make better decisions in your routine.

First, identify the programmed decision you may need to change. These are the little things you do every day that may not seem like a big deal, but they add up and make a difference.

For example, if you frequently make the purchasing decision to buy food from the most expensive brand and you find yourself in financial trouble every month, you may need to rethink your consumer behavior. This doesn’t mean you’ve to choose another brand, but you can evaluate the outcomes of some products you buy and reduce the amount if you don’t need so much of it.

Consider these habits in terms of the area of your life they affect. For example, if you want to be more productive at work, focus on the habits that impact your productivity.

You can also reduce the number of decisions you have to make every day by making them habits. This will free your mind from more important or strategic decisions.

If you are not sure which habits will improve your life, start with one habit and see how it goes. You can always add more habits later once they become part of your routine.

Start small so it’s easy for you to stick with it. Even if it’s just one thing you do differently every day, it will help you.

Making Key Decisions

Key decisions are decisions that are not made regularly and frequently. They require the decision-maker to use judgment and discretion to make a decision. Non-routine decisions are often important and therefore the decision-maker must spend more time and effort to make them.

Strategic decisions, on the other hand, require questioning and strategy because they are the decisions that shape your business for the future.

In business, they usually affect all areas of your operation, from marketing to finance, from operations to HR.

Such decisions can be very costly if they go wrong, so it is even more important to get them right. In your personal life, they probably affect your long-term plans or other people, and as a consumer, they usually affect your money, or you would not have to think about them so much.

Why It’s Important to Understand the Types of Decisions You Make

The types of strategic decisions we make affect our personal and professional lives. Most of what we do is based on a series of small key decisions, and if we do not make the best possible choices, we either waste another person’s time or make decisions that can cause us to lose the things that are important to us.

Some individual decisions are easy to understand. You buy a new car because you need it, or you get married because you feel it’s time. Other decisions can be more difficult – choosing a college, for example, or deciding whether to get the new health insurance or save money by keeping the old one.

We all make decisions every day. Some of those decisions are less consequential than others. Key decisions can have a much greater impact on our lives and create an extensive problem if we’re not careful.

When it comes to programmed decisions, however, many of us tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. We tend to ignore the consequences and focus too much on the immediate benefits. In other words: We may sometimes focus on the wrong things when we make individual decisions.

One of the biggest challenges in making a good decision is that we’re often too close to the issue. We can’t see the big picture when we watch our own involvement in making decisions or try to predict how they’ll play out in the future. When we do that, we end up making bad decisions without realizing it.

The best decision-makers take a step back and look at the big picture. They think about how their decisions will affect their future selves, the people they care about, and society as a whole. This kind of decision-making requires a long-term view and can be supported by better thinking.