Many people use surveys for work or for school, but they can be just as helpful in day-to-day life. Surveys are designed to give you useful information and bring clarity to difficult decision-making processes—and personal life can be just as tangled and confusing as anything that happens in an office.
You can use surveys to coordinate plans, ask people’s opinions, or just document information for yourself in a way that’s easy to search and organize. Here are some cool ways to use surveys to make your daily life a little easier.
1. Plan a group trip.
Let’s say you want to go camping with a group of friends, or meet your family in New York before your second cousin’s wedding. Sounds great! Now all you have to do is figure out:
- Who is coming?
- When are they free?
- Will they bring anyone else?
- How will they get there?
- What’s their budget for the trip?
- What do they want to do?
- What do they not want to do?
- Do they have health restrictions or diet restrictions?
- When are they leaving?
You can either resign yourself to a several-hundred notification group text thread, or you can send a survey. Send your survey through a link in a text of messaging service, or via email, and get all the critical information you need in one place, at one time. Send it a few weeks (or months) in advance to give people time to confirm the information you’re asking for and to expose potential logistical problems early on.
How to do it: send a survey asking all of the questions above, with different question types to help respondents answer in the most convenient way. Here’s a sample, with the type of questions you should ask:
- List anyone else you would plan to bring (blank text box)
- Which dates work for you? Choose all that apply. (Checkboxes, with different date ranges for each option)
- How would you get there? (Multiple choice with flying, driving, train as options)
- Which activities would you like to do? Choose all the ones you’re interested in. (Checkboxes)
- Where would you like to stay? (multiple choice including hotel, rental, or hostel options)
- What’s your ideal budget range for the trip? (multiple choice with options ranging from just below realistic up to extravagant.
Hint: Using a multiple choice answer will put people more at ease answering a potentially sensitive—but important—question. Having one especially low option will keep your friends/family from feeling self-conscious.)
Once you have your answers, you can use SurveyMonkey’s Analyze tool to filter by different responses and see who is available for each date range and which activities are the most popular. Find the date range that works best and the most popular activities and places to stay, and plan from there.
2. Pick a place for dinner.
Just like planning a trip, it can get tough to decide on a place to eat if you get too many people involved. Ask your friends to choose between a list of restaurants or types of cuisine, get everyone’s dietary restrictions and availability, and figure out which date, time, and restaurant makes the most sense for you.
How to do it: You’re asking people to take time out of their days, so these surveys need to be fast. You can use the same approach that you would for planning a trip, but ask fewer questions, and instead of sending it by email, you might consider making your survey a web link to send via text or messaging so that your friends can fill it out on their phones. Here’s a quick scheduling pollyou can use to get you started.
3. Ask your friends about your home decor—or your haircut.
Moving into a new house is overwhelming. The number of decisions can feel paralyzing—should you buy paint or wallpaper? Which chairs should you put in the kitchen? Do you really need those cabinets over there? You get tired, you second-guess yourself, and you get scared that you’ll choose something that you eventually hate. That’s where surveys come in.
Crowdsourcing opinions about how to arrange your furniture or what to buy can alleviate some of your doubts and make decision-making easier. If there’s a consensus from people whose opinions you value, the choice is a lot simpler. Rather than asking about each decision as it comes up, a survey lets you compile lots of questions into one place, so that you aren’t constantly bothering your friends, and you get more feedback at once.
No big move coming up? You can apply the same logic to get feedback about anything else that you’re uncertain about. Whether it’s how short to cut your bangs or what to wear to your office holiday party.
How to do it: There are two ways that you can do this type of survey. If you’re choosing between 2 or 3 things (like different haircuts), you can create a 2-3 question survey with a picture embedded at the top of each question and a 5-point scale underneath that asks people to rate how much they like each one. This lets you evaluate the different options and see which haircuts really knock it out of the park.
Or, if there are a bunch of different things that you’re considering, you can break them up into multiple surveys, with 5-7 items each, and send them to different people. Make sure to use the same rating scale to evaluate each item. When you get all your responses back, you can pick the options that got the highest ratings.
Are you considering something big (like an expensive investment)? Our ultimate guide to concept testing explains how to test different ideas in the most scientific way possible. It can also give you guidance about which approach is best for your needs.
4. Learn about how other people perceive you.
You can even reach out to friends and family to get new insights about yourself.Not sure how to should position yourself on your resume? Having trouble describing yourself on a dating app? With a simple survey, your family and friends can help.
In June, our product marketing manager, Morgan Molnar, decided to do a little investigation into her “personal brand” by asking friends and coworkers to take a survey and describe her in a few words. The results were enlightening. Most of Morgan’s feedback was glowing (she is an incredible person), which was clearly great for her to hear. She also got results that surprised her, and led her to reevaluate how she’d been thinking about certain aspects of herself.
Morgan wrote about her experience, her learnings, and what she might like to change as a result of the survey on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read.
How to do it: Create short survey with a few checkbox questions that ask your family, friends, or coworkers what they think your strongest skills are in each area. Make sure to include an “other” option so that they can write in their own answers as well. You can use the results to tell future employers “95% of my colleagues think I’m easy to work with,” and you can discover more skills that you might not have thought you had.
For your last question, create a blank text box that asks respondents to describe you in a few words. You’ll be able to read through everyone’s responses, and even use our word cloud feature to see which words pop up the most.
You know that getting feedback makes you better at your job—try using them in everyday life to see if they can bring just as much clarity into your personal life.