Too many decision-making methods

Published 10:17 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last week’s column was easy. It was the first one I had to write, so I had a clear theme and something to focus on. This week’s is proving to be harder.

The problem is that I’ve got too many choices.

I like to think I’m not an indecisive person. When I make a choice, I stick with it. But I’ve got to admit that it takes a while for me to pick something when I’ve got so many choices in front of me. I like to thoroughly look over all my options and not just choose blindly.

Imagine that you’re a regular at your favorite restaurant. There are only three options on the menu and you always choose number three because the first option is always terribly overcooked and option two’s main ingredient is something you hate. So you always order option number three. It’s familiar and comforting. You know what you’re getting.

Now imagine someone else buys the restaurant and changes it into a buffet. Now how are you supposed to pick what to eat when you have a hundred options instead of the usual three? You may be willing to try them all, but which do you try first?

This is the dilemma I find myself with. I’ve got a hundred ideas to write about, but no clue how to pick which ones to start with. How should I decide things?

There are a couple of easy methods I could try. Flipping a coin, throwing darts, picking a name out of a hat. Leave it to chance and just let fate decide what to write. That would work, but it feels a bit too unstructured.

In the spirit of March Madness, I could take all my ideas and make a tournament bracket. Although considering that my bracket for the actual basketball competition currently resembles a dumpster fire, maybe that’s not the best way to determine which ideas are good or not.

There’s also the option of just alphabetizing my list of ideas and writing based on that. That’s a perfectly reasonable option and a nice way to keep up with everything. But then you’d probably get a column about Christmas in April. And Christmas decorations already start appearing way too early. There’s no need to encourage that trend further.

In ancient Greece, people used to consult oracles for advice and guidance in their lives. The most famous of these fortunetellers was the oracle at Delphi. They used a variety of different items to predict the future, including water, fire, and even animal bones. Of course, there aren’t any oracles around these days to give me suggestions. I’m not too disappointed though. I’d rather leave animal bones out of the whole process.

So here I am again, stuck back at the buffet of a hundred options and no idea where to begin.

There are so many things I want to talk about.

I love the mechanics of storytelling. I like reviewing television and movies, observing which parts work and which don’t, so I can learn how to write better myself.

I love languages. Not only just the strange quirks of English, but also the sounds and symbols of foreign languages too. Words can be weird and wonderful. So much meaning can be packaged in so many letters.

I love collecting weird trivia. I love nature and geography. I love the sound of tractors running during harvest season. I love learning new things.

See? This is the problem. Every option on the buffet is just as good as the next one. I suppose there’s just no fool-proof method to choosing anything.

Maybe next week, I’ll simply close my eyes and wing it.


Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or call 252-332-7206.