Sunday, 5 Feb, 2023

How to Simplify Decision Making With the Superstructure Method

Decisions. We make them several times a day every day, most of the time without even realizing. But often, you have to make life-altering decisions...

Decisions. We make them several times a day every day, most of the time without even realizing. But often, you have to make life-altering decisions. Is there a system in place that can help you make smarter, better decisions every single time?

Yes! And here at Lifehack we call it the Superstructure Method that you can use to simplify decision making.

The Superstructure Method will help you make better decisions by:

  • Realigning your focus to what’s truly important a.k.a. prioritization
  • Saving you time
  • Creating and enhancing clarity
  • Improving your life overall by giving you a structured approach to decision making that you can rely on

Let’s dive in.

Simplify Decision Making with the Superstructure Method

First off, what is the Superstructure Method?

In the business landscape, you might have heard of MoSCoW Analysis.[1] The Superstructure Method is similar but an even better version.

The Superstructure Method is a tool for prioritization. Think of it as a tabular (or colorful, if you want to add colors for the categories!) way of representing the prioritization process.

In superstructure, you divide the tasks and possibilities into three distinct categories:

  • Must have
  • Should have
  • Good to have

Must Have

These are the things you can’t do without. You absolutely need to have them. It could be a task or an important raw material requirement that you need to have, otherwise, the results you want to achieve are unachievable.

Should Have

A little less critical than “must have”, the should-haves are important too, just not game-changing. These are actions and possibilities that fall in the middle tier where having them would be great and could have really positive effects on your outcomes.

Good to Have

If you want to have a visual representation of this, imagine a nonchalant shrug. It’s nice if you could have them. If you had all the resources in the world and an abundance of time, then sure!

But since you don’t, you realize that having these good-to-haves might have been nice, but that not having them is not going to have a negative effect. They’re just bonuses with no negative repercussions if you don’t have them.

And that’s it! Let’s walk you through implementing the superstructure method in making your next decision.

Here’s what you do:

  1. You start with the right intention. Be clear and positive about what you want. For a while, let the negative thoughts and ‘what-ifs‘ fly out the window. Let your analysis in the end do the talking. Lifehack’s detailed guide on setting intentions will get you geared up with the right intention in no time.
  2. List out, as thoroughly as you can, all the actions needed and the possibilities. Remember, be thorough. The more thorough you are, the clearer the picture will be for you.
  3. Now, here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for. It is time to unveil the Superstructure Method and let it do the sifting to simplify the decision making process.

Categorize all the thoroughly listed possibilities into the three superstructure categories.

How to Simplify Decision Making With the Superstructure Method

Benefits of the Superstructure Method

1. Clarity

When you have everything laid out in front of you, you can be sure that you’re not missing out on anything.

It doesn’t keep you guessing, and you can steer clear of falling into the warp of ‘what-ifs’. Your priorities are ironed out, and as you categorize your possibilities and actions, you start to get a clear picture of the outcome as well.

It’s amazing how undertaking the superstructure method for decision making can act like a freeze-frame for your thoughts. No more muddled jumble of words inside your head! You get to ‘see’ everything before you achieve it in all its tabular glory!

2. Resource-Saving

The Superstructure Method is time and cost-effective because it helps you to stay organized.

You allot a specific amount of time to listing and categorization, and then you can progress to execution. It’s as though you take care of one aspect of decision making and then everything begins to fall into place.

With the visuals of “must have“, “should have“, and “good to have“, you can easily pick and choose the actions with the highest critical factor and begin working. You can deploy your energies to the possibilities that need immediate action to get started right away.

And, you can plan on delegating the tasks in the ‘good-to-have‘ section without wasting your precious time and resources on time-consuming things which should rather be done by someone else.

3. Productive

Simplicity is powerful. It is a complex maze of ideas and thoughts in our everyday lives that leaves us confused and unfulfilled.

With the superstructure method, you have a strategic approach to solving problems of decision making in every area of your life. Be it moving, planning for your new year’s party, scoring well in a subject, or getting things done better in a business meeting, superstructure works for all.

The key to achieving productivity is that you use your resources optimally. This is based on the concept of opportunity cost that you can read more about in our previous blog post.

When you invest the maximum amount of energy, resources and time on the important vs the non-important, you’re immediately headed towards a productive start.

How to Apply the Superstructure Method in Everyday Life

I’d like to share with you a few examples on how to apply the Superstructure Method in our everyday lives. I’m sharing a little more in the scenario of moving home because I have recently moved my home to Canada and have a recent first-hand experience on how to use the Superstructure Method!

Scenario 1: Moving Home

Moving home is no easy task. The Superstructure Method can simplify decision making for you when you’re likely juggling a number of tasks at the same time.

While moving, you’re caught up in what to pack and move into your new home. But in the midst of all this, there are so many other factors to consider.

So, first off, start by listing everything you need to do or get done. For example:

  • Cancel/transfer memberships
  • Gather health records
  • Update insurance policies
  • Get quotes from moving companies
  • Sort through your stuff
  • Start gathering up all of your moving supplies
  • Pack infrequently used items
  • Update address and have mail held
  • Cancel/transfer utilities
  • Plan meals to avoid waste
  • Confirm date and time with movers
  • Measure large furniture
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Final thorough cleaning, etc.

Awesome! Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and begin the categorization.

Must Have

If you’re planning to use the services of a moving company, one of the foremost things you need to do is to get quotes from moving companies. This is to plan ahead financially in terms of budgeting, and set the dates for moving and then planning and packing accordingly.

And though it may seem a little redundant, you have to make sure that you follow up with the movers occasionally till the day of your moving. So, you have to include confirming date and time with movers in your list of must-haves.

Then there’s the no-brainer: you have to start gathering up all of your moving supplies. Whatever you may choose to use, whether it’s just the common cardboard boxes, tape, and sharpies, etc. gather up your supplies at least a month in advance.

And while you’re at it, you need to sort through your stuff to decide what you’re keeping and what you’re finally discarding to make way for important and useful things to be moved easily. Through this, you’ll make sure that you have the supplies available with you in time to pack your things whenever you have the time to devote to packing.

Then, there’s refill prescriptions. If anyone in your household, whether that’s you, family members, or pets, requires any kind of prescription medications get them filled immediately. Because in the chaos of moving, it could be one of those things that falls through the cracks, and you don’t want to be without it.

So, your must have column is going to look something like this:

  • Get quotes from moving companies
  • Sort through stuff
  • Start gathering up all of the moving supplies
  • Confirm date and time with movers
  • Refill prescriptions

Should Have

Measuring large furniture, though not a deal-breaker, is a great way to avoid any future problems while moving. Also, looking into canceling or transferring memberships will make things smoother down the road. Gathering health records, updating insurance policies, etc., all constitute planning ahead to make your life after moving easier and better organized without a hitch.

Your should have list would showcase a similar breakdown:

  • Cancel/transfer memberships
  • Gather health records
  • Update insurance policies
  • Pack infrequently used items
  • Update address and have mail held
  • Cancel/transfer utilities
  • Measure large furniture

Good to Have

So far, you’ve taken care of the absolute necessities. You’ve also outlined the necessary tasks which, though not deal-breakers, are still an important inclusion in your moving plan.

Now, ask yourself, what are you left with?

These would be the ‘good-to-haves’. These are the sorts of tasks that you take care of if you have the remaining time and resources at hand. Otherwise, you get someone else to take care of them. Or, in some cases, you might let go of these altogether. Your call!

Good to have list:

  • Plan meals to avoid waste
  • Final thorough cleaning, etc.

Scenario 2: Choosing a Job

When choosing a job, it’s great to have the Superstructure Method handy to help you choose the best job possible given your requirements.

Must Have

  • Commute no longer than 40 minutes so I can spend more time with my family
  • Saturdays off
  • Over $[amount] in salary
  • Paid sick leaves
  • Healthy work environment

Should Have

  • Company lunch so I wouldn’t have to prepare lunch every day
  • At least [number] annual vacation days
  • Attractive performance incentives

Good to Have

  • Includes the use of [specific] technologies
  • Hybrid model with [number] work-from-home days allowed

Scenario 3: Help with Prioritization

Here’s a quick overview of implementing the Superstructure Method in an everyday situation.

It’s a busy day and you have a mounting to-do list. As you sit down on your work desk to start, you are already daunted by the seemingly never-ending list.

This is the time you implement superstructure, kick fear and anxiety to the curb, and start crushing your goals.

  • Make a table of “must have“, “should have“, and “good to have“.
  • Enlist all the tasks in “must have” that are crucial to be done today (not doing them today would cost you).
  • Once you’re done with grouping these in the first column, you peruse the list for everything that is important still. Write them down in the “should have”.
  • Now, everything else you’re left with falls in the category of “good to have”.

Bottom Line

The Superstructure Method simplifies decision making by getting your priorities straightened out. It acts as a freeze-frame for your thoughts. The key takeaway is simply to use superstructure method as often as you can in your daily life!

You will find it to be an indispensable tool that will make your life so much better and more organized. So go ahead and share with us an example where you’d like to use the superstructure method to up your decision making power in daily life.

Featured photo credit: Soundtrap via


[1] As a Business Analyst: How to do a MoSCoW Analysis?

The post How to Simplify Decision Making With the Superstructure Method appeared first on Lifehack.

By: Leon Ho
Title: How to Simplify Decision Making With the Superstructure Method
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 06 Sep 2022 14:00:56 +0000

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