All virtues stem from a few basic virtues: justice, love, wisdom, humility, and so on.
What might the modern ‘virtue’ or quasi-virtue of decisiveness refer to?
Decisiveness refers to taking action, right away, when it is time to act. This most closely corresponds to the classical virtue of **zeal,** opposite the deadly vice of **sloth.** Sloth is a torpid resistance to doing good — while zeal is an energetic **leap** in the direction of the good.
When it comes to avoiding stress, and being happy in our day to day lives, decisiveness looks like setting a time and a place for everything and sticking to it with discipline.
I call this ‘time budgeting’ because it is similar to a money budget.
When it’s time to check email, for example, check email! But when it’s not time, don’t dip your toe in the email (for example, glancing at a mobile app) where doing so could cause stress because you aren’t able to answer the email right then.
Even better: when it’s the time or place you have to develop the discipline to not even think about that topic or activity. For example, if you are not going to sit down and pay bills, don’t even think about bills — our thoughts cause us stress. The thought “I have bills to pay” may negatively affect your mood, especially if you can’t do anything about it right then.
For all the recurring activities and responsibilities we must tackle, find a time and place for them. If you can’t (you’re ‘overbudget’ on activities) then cut back on commitments. If you set aside a time and place, but find yourself distracted or not completing things on time, increase the time budget or increase your personal discipline. Use checklists to keep track of each step in a larger project and get to it.
By setting a time and place and being decisive (zealous!), it is possible to be both highly productive and also relaxed and stress free.
An olympic runner doesn’t run all the time. There may be times that they look from the outside quite calm, or even lazy. It’s not time to run!