One of my favourite films of all time is Limitless, the lead character in the film is urged to try a drug that gives him a razor-sharp mind. In reality, most of us wake up with a razor-sharp mind, and as the day progresses, we lose the edge.
Would you act any differently if you knew you had a finite number of right decisions to make in a day?
Have you been spending much brainpower on decisions that can thrive on autopilot?
Can a single decision eliminate the need for a thousand other choices? Perhaps. Let’s find out!
What to eat for breakfast? What to wear to work? When to go to bed? Every single day, an average adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions before bedtime.
Do the numbers matter? Of course!
The more decisions you make in a day, the more predictably irrational you become. Surprised?
Here’s the great news: it doesn’t have to be so!
Fewer Decisions, More Productivity
Have you ever wondered why former US president Barak Obama always appeared in grey or blue suits? Or why Mark Zuckerberg still sports his iconic grey T-shirt? Remember Steve Jobs and his black turtlenecks and jeans? Do these high-achievers lack fashion sense? Far from it! The reason is simple: high-achievers consistently choose to avoid decisions that are not worthy of their precious time.
According to a study at Cornell University, we make 226.7 decisions per day as regards food only – what to eat, where to eat, when to eat, etc. This is perhaps more than we may care to admit! Taking a cue from these highly effective people, we can intentionally pare down our decisions by forming a habit around them.
The Power Of Routines
“Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them.”Alfred North Whitehead
The automatic stereotyped response is the most efficient pattern of behaviour, and this is why much of human action stems from it. We exist in an extraordinarily complex environment with numerous stimuli, and to successfully deal with it, we need shortcuts. It is impossible to effectively analyze all aspects of the situations we encounter in a day because we don’t have the time and capacity to do that!
As humans, we need to set in motion certain routines that grossly simplify our decision-making process and eliminate the need to make some trivial decisions. A routine is one of the most powerful tools that enable us to make better decisions because it frees the mind, availing us with more mental energy that we can divert to decisions that count. Without routines, the pull of nonessential distractions will overwhelm us.
6 Steps to Help You Avoid Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue makes people reckless in making decisions. This could either prompt them to act impulsively or, worse, become indecisive. Whichever way, making an important decision after a series of trivial decisions could create bigger problems. Luckily, here are 6 ways to combat decision fatigue, keep your willpower fresh, and boost your productivity every single day.
1. Make Fewer Decisions
Reducing the number of decisions you make in a day is one of the most effective ways to reduce decision fatigue. Establish daily routines that help you minimize and simplify your choices by putting certain decisions on autopilot. For example, you could set a time to sleep and wake-up, have established outfits you rotate each week, have specific days and time you exercise, use automatic bill pay for regular bills, etc. Whatever your preferences are, make a routine and stick to it. With time, this will teach you how to conserve your will power, and give you self-control.
2. Delegate Decisions
Delegating decision making is similar to delegating tasks. Not only does this act take the burden of the need to micromanage others off your shoulders, but it also makes those you transfer the decision-making process believe that you trust them. As a manager, try to delegate some decisions to your employees. Or, if you’re married, consider delegating some decision-making to your children, spouse, or other family members?
3. Make Big Decisions In The Morning
The time of the day affects our judgment and ability to make the right decisions. The best time most people make accurate and thoughtful decisions is in the morning. The slope of decision-making becomes steeper as the day rolls by. By noon, most people already start making riskier irrational decisions. So do you have a decision that requires careful consideration? Make it in the morning!
4. Limit Your Options
When you have too many choices from which to choose from, the chances are that you’ll become mentally stressed out. For example, consider people who “shop around” to get the “best deal.” Although, in the end, they may save a few dollars, they had emotions ranging from anxiety to feeling overwhelmed. Choosing a particular place where you shop, the brands you buy, etc., could take a lot of burden off your shoulders. Don’t let trivial things drain your energy or overload your brain.
5. Simplify your life
So many activities, involvements, hobbies, volunteering, and the likes bogging you down? Simplify your life by cutting things that aren’t impotent! You need not involve yourself in so many activities and hobbies that you become overwhelmed. Have only a few tasks that you engage in because you’ll have to make fewer decisions.
6. Stop Wallowing in Regret
Many times, we get into the trap of trying to delay making decisions because we feel our choices must be “perfect.” Due to the fear of making the “wrong” choices, many people stall decision making so much so that they begin to make those wrong choices they tried to avoid. If you’ve made a wrong decision, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Save yourself from mental stress by focusing on making better decisions. Stop wallowing in the regret of the past.
Congratulations! Now you have one less decision to worry about, or to state it more accurately, thousands of decisions. Never forget that your highest priority should be to protect your ability to prioritize. Only use your brainpower on things that you consider essential. The rest will do well on autopilot!