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Small decision Problem? Use the Balancing Matrix Lite

A great decision-making tool for small daily life decisions.

Sometimes you’re struggling to make a small decision, and this is where the Balancing Matrix Lite (BML) is handy. For example, if you’d like to go out with your friends and want to choose a restaurant, or you can’t decide between staying at home or going out with friends. In these cases, you can use a “lite” version of the exploratory balancing matrix (EBM) to manage your daily life decisions.

The BML is based on exploring the effect and relation of your small decision on the optional decision domains + your expected happiness from the activity you plan to do.

Optional decision domains are part of the Balancing Matrix, which is formed of 7 decision domains. The three core decision domains are your personal statement, you (body, mind, and soul), and your circle of communication.

small decision street lights
Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura on

The four optional decision domains are:

  1. Time
  2. Resources
  3. Activity
  4. Location

The Time-domain covers the time needed to do the activity you intend to do and the time required to make the decision.

The resources domain would cover the money needed for your decision or ant tangible resource. For example, a restaurant outing, resources would cover the affordability of the restaurants, price comparison of the two restaurants, and so on.

The activity domain would include the type of activity and how it ranks according to your preference, entertainment, work, relaxation, romance, and so on.

The location domain would cover the distance to the destination, the venue’s safety, cleanliness, ease of transportation, and the service.

Expected happiness + the optional decision domains form the Balancing Matrix Lite.

Expected happiness would cover your expected happiness level in the upcoming activity or event on a simple scale:

  • Happy
  • Average
  • Not Happy

Struggle with daily life decisions

It’s not always that easy to decide, especially in minor daily decisions. Every day, thousands if not millions of people struggle to decide what to wear. They already own the clothes and the money, so resources aren’t an issue. They’ve considered location, such as the outfit’s appropriateness, the weather, and the distance of their location. They’ve considered what they’ll be doing and whether it’s suitable. Their happiness levels are the same for all the clothes. It sounds like a modest problem, but it wastes so much time.

Do you have a problem with what to wear each morning? In this case, outside help may be useful, such as asking for your friend’s advice or a stylist at a store. You can browse an online store and try out different outfit combinations. Or use a styling app, as some stores and apps now offer virtual reality outfitting. Try laying out your clothes at the beginning of the week, or use a rotating capsule wardrobe to limit your choices.

If you compare two things that share the same outcomes in the optional decision domains, then go with your intuitive gut feeling. Let System 1 in your brain work and decide for you, as it has the wisdom of earlier experience.


Don’t spend too much time comparing similar choices, especially if they are low-impact decisions.

Just do what makes you happy.

A. I. Shoukry is the founder of The Decisions Academy and a bestselling author.

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