Slow Decisions Are Often the Most On-Point

Most decisions come with some sort of deadline, whether it's the end of a sale, a time limit on a job offer, or just the eventual disappearance of a product you want. There's a time and a place for instinct, but a new study suggests that taking your time really does lead to the best choices.

Researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam spent three years asking guests at a casino to guess how many pearls were in an oversized champagne glass. Since the prize for most accurate guess was more than $117,000, about 1.2 million people participated in the contest. The researchers found that averaging all the guesses came out amazingly close to the real number, and that participants who guessed more than once also came close over the average of all their individual estimates.

The Dutch researchers called this "the wisdom of inner crowds." This doesn't necessarily mean you'll know a decision is right if you take a lot of time to make it. However, it does indicate that giving yourself lots of data points can help you reach the best decision for you.

If you're considering a big purchase or a change in career, ask yourself about it at several different points in a day, over as long a period as you feel is reasonable. Literally sleeping on it also improves outcomes. If you agree with your thinking both on Tuesday morning and Thursday night, you might come out more satisfied than either waffling about it constantly or rushing to a choice.