“There just is not enough time in a day.” Everyone says this. I’m no stranger to this statement myself. Yet after concluding previously that I had no additional time, I was able to add to my days; Blogging, Reading Books, Research, Working Out 3 to 5 Times a Week, Volleyball and 8 Hours of Sleep a Day. So if there was no time, how did I manage to add more?
Enter Decision Fatigue
I want to introduce you to a form of currency you should really care about more than time. This form of currency is called Decision Fatigue. It is being focused on by a lot of high output influential people. Our limited number of decisions we can make each day should be the focal point instead of time.
The best way to define Decision Fatigue is to describe it as having limited will power or cognitive choices we can make each day. Habits will guide you through all the simple tasks like, putting your pants on or brushing your teeth, but it won’t help you with things like, what to wear or when and what to eat. They most definitely won’t help you with anything you have not done before or creative processes.
One other way I like to explain this is to think of yourself having two minds. One mind that stores your habits and pretty much runs on autopilot. The other mind often referred to as “Self”, is noticeably conscious and making decisions to steer your life each day. That feeling when you don’t even know what you want to watch on TV at the end of the day, usually means you are running on empty for decision making power. This is the reason infomercials are on late at night when you are more likely to make bad decisions. The first bad decision being to watch the infomercial and the second to buy the product you don’t need.
So habits are what are keeping you moving without much thought, but your cognitive choices and decisions are what control your output for the day. So knowing all this, how can we create more time or the illusion of more time in our days?
If we have now changed our vantage point to one of limited choice, then limiting the number of unnecessary choices should create more output. Once I changed this view of daily output potential I started naturally accomplishing more each day. I found myself always wanting to eliminate more unnecessary decision making tasks and adding new tasks to replace them.
The laundry list of things I added to my day was not an overnight change. (I may get into habit formation in another article soon.) All of us can however, easily come up with things they would like to be doing additionally with their time. For example “I should exercise more…” People often want to add ways to better themselves or just do more of what they love to do.
So we now know creating more time in the day is not necessarily the goal, but to make better use of your limited decision making allowance for the day. With the concept thoroughly explain now, lets take a look at how we can put this to use. You would be surprised what things are zapping your decision bank account on the daily. Here is a list of some less obvious things that I found really helpful in reducing decision fatigue:
- Messes and Clutter
- Visible Things?
- Deciding What to Eat
- Trying to Remember Everything
That might seem like a strange list however it begins to make sense when you pay attention to and eliminate some of these things.
Messes and Clutter
Messes and clutter take a little bit out of you every time you see them. Every time you look at a mess you have to go through a little decision making thought process. The reason why you are not cleaning it now and then making a mental note, usually as to when you will have time to clean it. If you have a lot of messes around the house you might not even realize how energy draining your home is. Similarly a messy car can have the same affect. That amazing feeling of riding in your car right after you cleaned out all the junk, is a clear untaxed mind.
“Visible things?” Yes, if you are not using it daily, it probably should not be something visible to you at all times. Your entire movie collection for instance is a good example of this. If it is in plane view of your daily travels you might have an internal dialog about when to watch this or that movie you glanced at. Know that entertainment is something you will seek out and does not have to be in plain sight. OCD level life adjustment? Maybe, but I still suggest you try it out to see what you get out of it. The benefits of keeping certain things out of line of sight on a productive day might surprise you.
What do you want to eat?! Everyone can relate to this dilemma and we all know this can go on for much more time than it really should. My suggestion for this one is to try a meal plan out. I found pre-planned meals to probably be the biggest time saver in my week. This is the change that allowed me to start working on this blog. It may sound boring however, planning “Cheat Days” in your meal plan can fix this. (Cheat Days and Addictions Article Link) These Cheat Days are not aimed at productivity but at downtime and revitalization of our willpower for the next week. With these downtime Cheat Days we would be making all food choices related to satisfying any itch we have for certain foods.
Trying to Remember Everything
Remember to Forget… “I’ll just make a mental note” is something you will almost never hear me say. This little nasty habit will tax you endlessly until the task is completed in the future. In an even worse case, it will tax you for a while and then you forget about it! The task will not be completed and you will have depleted some of your limited resources for decisions. Shopping list items are a good example of this. However, things like what to buy next time you are out shopping can be easily outsourced to your smartphone. Both Google on Android and Siri on iPhones, can even take voice commands for reminders and it’s amazingly helpful. You can also use reminders to remind yourself to tell that friend “that thing” next time you see them. I use and abuse Siri for reminders and I never have any mental notes that are more than about an hour away. Your mental notes are firstly not reliable, they tax your decision bank account and an easy solution is available. For the reliability alone you should be doing this.
Now you are armed with the knowledge of Decision Fatigue. I think with this knowledge alone you will slowly make changes to your habits that will benefit you. You can’t help but see decision wasters in your day. A sure fire way to fail however, is to try and incorporate all the mentioned practices in this post at once. At first just try one thing to start and see what benefits you get out of it. I hope it helps you find time to reach goals you maybe have been putting off.
If you like any of what you consumed in this article, please spread the virus of abnormal thinking on social media located on this page. Like the Facebook Page too! 🙂
More about Decision Fatigue:
- Book – Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
- Book – The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande