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DECISION FATIGUE



Your willpower is limited. It's finite. Therefore it is valuable.


In the best of times we can use willpower to be creative, make decisions and to focus.


Understanding, however, that it is limited and it is valuable means we'll try to protect it more.


One of the ways we can protect it is by practicing something called 'choice minimalism' - something of a hack, where we purposefully seek to eliminate as many decisions from our day-to-day as we feel comfortable with - therefore reducing the 'decision fatigue' that can derail that valuable, but finite willpower.


 

 

Decisions Are Taxing


Decisions eat away at your mental energy. More than you might think.


When you're in a constant decision-making state, this can all too easily become fatiguing - leaving you prone to poorer decisions. In this state, the mental energy you need for willpower is also eroded.


Decisions - no matter how small - are taxing.


Let's take your mornings, for example. When you wake up, you probably have a finite amount of time and willpower. Every decision you make saps a bit more time and a bit more willpower.


Imagine if you could 'game' this, to almost automate a number of the little decisions you need to make each and every morning, leaving you with more mental energy to face the rest of your day. Cool, right?


Well, it is possible. Simply by setting up little routines and then applying a bit of 'aftercare.'


 


Set Up Routines

Certain points of most days are pretty much the same: mornings, mealtimes, bedtimes, for example. They consist of many of the same sorts of things...but we leave a lot of the decision making open to our mood and feeling.


How about taking one of these points in the day, and settling on a set routine to follow, most of the time?


It might be bedtime. Brainstorming, then moulding into a list, a set order of things that you need to do before getting into bed. The simple act of doing this can instantly remove 5-10 (or more) decisions from your evening that you otherwise would have had to make. You can follow them on autopilot.


It might be lunchtime. If you prepare meals ahead, great - you'll have already removed a major decision from the middle of your day - freeing up your mental energy for other things. If not, decide in advance what/where you'll eat each lunchtime this week. If you like to order in, set up a few different meals on food ordering apps that you use. That way, you don't have to pore over a menu - you can just log in and order.


Taking a bit of time to set up some routines will eventually (and quickly) save you time and mental energy. You'll feel calmer and more in control...and have a whole bunch more willpower to call upon.


 

Aftercare


Routines needn't be perfect - but they need to be effective. By that I mean that they need to serve you and your circumstances best.


They need continual refinement - especially at the beginning and when your lifestyle changes (which it will).


A morning routine that was created when you lived alone childfree will be vastly different to one you create with kids, living with other people.


For the purposes of this section, we'll deal with the refinement you can make to a routine in the early days:


First 7-10 Days

  1. Once you've created a routine, incorporating as many of the little decisions you'd have otherwise made, trial it for 7-10 days.

  2. Within that time, continually amend the routine/order based on what you learn.


After 7-10 Days

  1. Evaluate your routines: optimising & grouping tasks together, deciding whether or not they're actually helping.

  2. Apply the 80/20 rule: immediately remove the things that waste you time and/or don't serve you. The useless tasks, starting with the ones that take you the most time. For example, choosing what to wear each day - unless fashion is important to you, you can stick with very similar clothes most days that will make you feel good and confident, removing ones from your wardrobe that don't.

 

 


Final Thoughts

We practice choice minimalism to reduce the toll our decisions take on our mental energy. The big idea is that you spend more time doing the things you enjoy doing, eliminating (or cleverly structuring) the things that don't.


Some very high achievers use this principle:


  • Barack Obama: "I try to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make."


  • Mark Zuckerberg: "I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community."


Some of the ideas and thoughts in this article might seem unusual. I've not written it for you to follow verbatim, but to instead take what you feel would be useful. Some of my most successful clients have adopted this method and it's made a near-instant impact on their lifestyles.


Some things might cost you (financially) a bit more. Consider the trade off (you get to save time and preserve willpower) when you approach this.


You should play to your preferences. If you're a foodie or a fashionista, it makes sense for you to spend time on these things and not deny what brings you joy. Remember, it's all about spending more time doing the things you enjoy doing, eliminating (or cleverly structuring) the things that don't.


Be smart with your willpower: don't overuse it, so it's available for you when you need it.


 

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