The Decision Matrix: A Smart Yet Simple Tool

Connor Wang
4 min readDec 10, 2020


There’s a lot of decisions we have to make in our lives. The average adult is estimated to make 35,000 decisions a day that will have some kind of impact on their lives. We’ve all struggled to make difficult decisions before, but how do we do it? Flip a coin? Pro and cons chart? Ask a magic 8ball? Put it to the side and hope it’s answered for you? Sure, there are lots of options, but one technique rules supreme: the decision matrix.

First of all… what is a decision matrix? A decision matrix is a tool made to help you decide on the best option or course of action from multiple options. It’s designed to be simple and easy to understand and is extremely useful when making any kind of decision.

Now, there are different types of decision matrices. Some decisions are easier than others, so you can use a normal decision matrix to decide. Other choices, however, have large impacts on your life or others, and can’t be solved with a pros and cons chart. This is where we bring in the weighted decision matrix, which is where we’re going to start.

You can make decision matrices anywhere you want; I made this one on Google Sheets!

This may look complicated at first, but let’s break it down. This decision matrix is made to help decide between 3 houses on Elm Street, Kennedy Avenue, and Maple Street, respectively. Buying a house is a big decision, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best option.

The top bar is where you’ll put your options

Well, what about the stuff on the left side? That is your criteria, the things that are most important for you when making a decision. It’s important to consider these and make sure you’ve got everything because this is a major part of making sure you get the best option for you.

Criteria goes on the left side
These sections are our final outcomes. We‘ll come back to this later

Alright, we got the words figured out. Let’s move onto the numbers.

Weights are used to further improve and dive deeper into difficult decisions

Over here, you can see this row is labelled “weight.” This is the section that differentiates between a normal decision matrix, and a weighted decision matrix. Weights are assigned to each criterion to prioritize one over another. For example, in this case, the weight for cost is 3 while interior is 1. That means the creator of this matrix would rather have a cheaper house with a decent interior, thus helping us make a more informed decision.

Ratings can be on any range, but this matrix we’ll be rating criteria on a scale of 1–10

Now onto the actual rating. For this case, we’re going to be rating each option for each criterion on a scale of 1–10; 10 being the best, and 1 being the worst. As you can see, under the size criteria, the house on Kennedy Avenue is the largest but also the most expensive. Make sure you take your time with this, because this will determine what outcomes you get.

We’re almost done!

It’s time for the final totals! To get your ‘scores’ for each option, we’ll look at the Elm Street option first. All you have to do is multiply the weight by the rating for each row, and add them all up. For Elm Street, it would look like this: (6 x 2)+(4 x 1)+(5 x 1)+(9 x 3)+(2 x 4)+(3 x 4) = total score. As you can see, this will end up at 68, which is the ‘score’ for Elm Street.

The ‘Rank’ row is optional, it just helps show which option is the best decision

When using weighted decision matrices, the option with the most points is the best choice; in this case, it’s Elm Street with 68 points!

When I spoke about the normal decision matrix before, it’s the exact same thing but without weights, which makes every criterion worth the same. It’s fine to use normal decision matrices if you’re making small decisions like what to have for dinner, but weighted decision matrices can make difficult decisions much easier.

I highly recommend using decision matrices! I know I will be; they’re incredibly useful tools for making difficult decisions.

  • Just a note: you don’t have to use decision matrices for every single decision you make, that’d be a lot of time wasted 😆

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