Problems come in all shapes and sizes but one of the most common types of problems you will face in a professional or personal setting is the need to choose between two possible solutions. In these cases you may find yourself forced to pick between two equally viable options and in that case you can end up frozen in indecision. Often this won't mean picking between two things at all, but deciding on action or inaction, or keeping things the same versus making a change.
Fortunately this is a common problem that many people face and as such there are some ready made solutions you can rely on. And the classic answer is to use a pros and cons list.
Using the List
The idea behind a pros and cons list is to make the arguments for and against a certain idea. If you're unsure whether or not to move home then for instance, you might make a list of advantages of moving home and a list of the disadvantages. Alternatively, if you're deciding between two televisions for your home, the columns would instead be for each television and you'd write down the pros of each one.
At the end you would then tally up the answers and the column with the highest score would be the best choice. In theory…
Taking it to the Next Level With Spreadsheets
The problem with this idea is that problems tend to be qualitative rather than quantitative. In other words, just seeing how many ‘pros' an option has doesn't really tell you whether that is the best option or not.
Rather, you need to at the very least be able to quantify each score as well. This is where it can come in handy to start using a spreadsheet that will let you enter a score for each item, telling you how much that matters. Now the final answer would give you a much better idea of how you really felt about the options.
Or when comparing two options, you can give each one a score for a particular question. When comparing TVs for instance, you could give each product a score for ‘screen size', for ‘definition', for ‘appearance', for ‘price' etc.
Next, you would then use an algorithm to give each of those factors a weighting – so that the more important aspects counted for more than the smaller ones. Again, the final score would be able to give you a much more accurate picture.
This is the strategy that company ‘buyers' will use when deciding who to give a contract to. The result is not a definitive by any means but is a powerful tool that can help you feel more confident with your final answer.