We all make hundreds of decisions each day, from the mundane (your lunch selection) to the important (a career path). All those choices and all those pending decisions make each day exhausting! Making the mundane decisions routine (or even non-existent) will help you to save your mental energy for the important things and make you more productive during your day.
In their book Will Power: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength authors Roy F. Bumeister and John Tierney discuss recent studies in neuro- and behavioral science show that willpower is a form of mental energy that can be exhausted. The phenomenon these studies observe is called decision fatigue. While many of us have had the experience of feeling too tired to make the right decision when it comes to our diet, getting in exercise or choosing the right way versus the easy way on a given task, the results of these scientific studies create a new framework for our understanding of the phenomenon of decision fatigue and ways to effectively combat it for the sake of improving personal and professional effectiveness. At Simply Placed we are using this new understanding to help people stick to new routines that result in better-organized and productive behaviors.
In controlled experiments researchers discovered a key factor that contributes to decision fatigue is the number of decisions a person has to make in a given amount of time. The more decisions a person makes the more tired they become. The more tired they become the more likely they are to either make a reckless or impulsive decision or to become resistant to change and not make a decision at all. After making a day’s worth of decisions, minuscule to large, we can be too tired to demonstrate good willpower when it comes to making a healthy decision about dinner or to stick to an end of day routine that if done will set you up for success the next morning. People who are successful in demonstrating good willpower are actually people who have figured out ways to reduce the number of decisions they make during the day, thus mitigating decision fatigue.
Here are some tips for ways to reduce and improve decision-making to increase your willpower.
- Simplify your wardrobe to reduce decision-making in the morning.
- Plan your menu for the week so you don’t have to make a decision about dinner at the end of the day when you’re most likely to experience decision fatigue. For more tips on weekly meal planning, check out our pervious post Monday Mom’s Moment: Weekly Meal Planning.
- Declutter your workspaces to eliminate decisions about what you need to do to make your work space usable. Schedule a clean out day and get your office in better shape right away.
- Make decisions that matter to prevent clutter (e.g. decide to process incoming paper rather than let it collect).
- Organize your day so that you make your most important decisions earlier. Read our post Find Time Friday: Beat Disorganization with a Schedule for more tips for making your day as productive as possible.
How do you reduce your daily decisions? We want to know! If you have a topic for an upcoming Wellness Wednesday let us know, in the meantime, check out some of our previous Wellness Wednesday posts: Prepare Your Pantry for the Upcoming Holidays and 5 Tips for Organizing Your Work to Stay Motivated.