Are you a quick decision maker or do you take longer to mull over a question before you can form an answer?  According to Sherlock Holmes, when it comes to making decisions, you might be distracted by the clutter in your brain.  The fictional character described his analogy in “A Study in Scarlet” in which he suggests that man’s brain is like an attic.  The fool will stuff all sorts of furniture and items in his brain attic so that the useful information becomes lost in the clutter.  The wiser man will store only the tools that will help him do his work and have it organized so that it can be accessed quickly and easily.

Maria Konnikova shares this theory in “Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Cultivate What You Know to Optimize How You Decide,” posted in Blogs on ScientificAmerican.com.  According to Holmes’ theory, it would be difficult for us to make decisions if there are so many distractions that can keep us from evaluating the facts.  Our emotions, personal impressions, or other irrational or unnecessary distractions can impact our decision-making process which could cause us to make poor decisions or take too long to make a decision.

We can add, rearrange, and change the type of information that we store in our brain.  Konnikova suggests that we should occasionally take stock of what is in our brain attic to see if we are storing the information that keeps us productive and making smart, timely decisions, or if we are collecting clutter.  Make smarter decisions faster by having your facts at the tip of your brain, so to speak.