Preview: Decision Diary

This is an exercise preview. Please refrain from duplicating, sharing, or using with students/in class. For full access, contact

Emotions are part of every decision you make – especially purchasing decisions.

  • What clothes you buy
  • What you eat
  • What school you go to
  • What phone you use
  • What job you take
  • What you post on social media

…are all driven by your feelings.

The Same Goes for Your Customers

To get a better sense of the conscious, and subconscious, feelings your customers will experience when deciding whether to buy your eventual product, this exercise will help you track the emotions you experience as a customer.

Each day this week you’ll track at least one decision you make, including what emotions or feelings came up before, during and after the decision making process.

To help you, try to be aware each time you’re about to pay for something (e.g. each time you pull out your credit card, reach for cash, etc.), of what feelings you’re experiencing that drove you to make your purchase decision.

Step 1

Click to create your diary.

Click to create your diary.

To help you keep track of your decisions, you’ll want to create your Decision Diary.

Click the image on the right to make a copy of the Decision Diary form.

Note: you only need to do this once.

While you’ll be recording a decision you make every day this week, you only need to create your diary once.

Step 2


So that you can quickly fill out the diary each day this week, send yourself an email (or save yourself a note), with the URL to your diary form.

If you use a subject like “Decision Diary Link” in the email to yourself, each time you make a purchase, you can use your phone to search your email for “Decision Diary”, click the link, and fill out the form.

Step 3


Click the Preview Button to fill out the form.

Step 4

Fill out today’s entry, thinking about any decision you made today. No matter what decision you made, be sure to describe in detail the process you used to make the decision.

For example, let’s say you went out for lunch. You might describe your decision making process something like:

“For lunch today I was craving something healthy, and I didn’t want to make anything at home. I opened Yelp on my phone and searched for Vegetarian to see if anything looked good. I scrolled down the list, checking the pictures of the food for something that looked healthy and skipping any restaurant that had less than 4 stars and had more than two $’s. I was deciding between two burrito shops and I picked the closer of the two.”

Then read back through your thought process, and describe how emotions played a role before, during and after the decision making process:

Before: I was feeling hungry, lazy (didn’t want to cook at home), bored (wanted something new).

During: I was craving something healthy, that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about. I wanted something high quality, but I didn’t want to feel like I was wasting money. I wanted to feel like I was getting a good deal. I was also feeling lazy because I didn’t want to walk too far.

After: I felt excited on my way to go get my burrito. I felt a little annoyed, and a little hangry because I had to wait longer than I expected. Overall, I felt the burrito was okay – it was pretty good, but I felt regret over not adding sour cream.”

You’ll be surprised by how many feelings show up when you make even simple decisions. In this case, there was:

  • Hunger
  • Laziness
  • Boredom
  • Craving
  • Guilt
  • Want (high quality)
  • Fear (of wasting money)
  • Want again (good deal)
  • Lazy again
  • Excitement
  • Annoyance
  • Hanger
  • Regret

…over a burrito!

Using this example as inspiration, write up a description of a decision you made today.

Step 5

It’s really difficult to remember feelings associated with a decision well-after you’ve made the decision. Even if you do remember them, your memories of the emotions will likely be different than they actually were, so it’s important to fill out the diary every day.

To help you do that, set yourself two reminders:

  1. In the morning (e.g. 10 am), so you remember to be aware of the emotions associated with your decisions throughout the day.
  2. In the evening (e.g. 7 pm), so you remember to record your diary entry for that day.

There are several easy ways to set a reminders for yourself:

  • If you have an iPhone, ask Siri to “Remind me to write in my decision diary every day this week.” Do this twice setting one reminder for the morning and one for the evening.
  • If you have an Android, open the Google Assistant and ask it to “Remind me to write in my decision diary every day this week.” Do this twice setting one reminder for the morning and one for the evening.
  • If you prefer a calendar reminder, you can use Google Calendar, or any other system you like. If you use this method, include the link to your form in your calendar events so its easy to add new entries.

Just make sure you have some way to remind yourself to fill out your diary, otherwise, you’ll be waiting until the end of the week to fill in multiple days’ worth of entries, which will invoke several negative emotions (e.g. frustration, anger, guilt, etc.)

Step 6


After a week of recording your decisions, you’ll be able to see some patterns.


Open your Decision Diary form, and click the pencil icon in the top right corner.


Then click the “Responses” tab.

Now you can scroll down looking at a summary of your responses.

  • What patterns do you see in your buying/decision making process?
  • What emotions come up most frequently?
  • Did you become more aware of your emotions throughout this process?

Step 7


If your professor would like you to submit your diary responses, simply scroll back up and click the horizontal dots icon above the “Accepting responses” button.


Then click the “Download responses (.csv)” option and send your professor that file.

Here’s a quick video that shows how to do all of Step 6 and Step 7:

Leave a Reply