Every single day, you make thousands of decisions:
Should I hit the snooze button or not? What time should I leave for work? Should I exercise today? And if so, what time?
The list goes on and on.
Some of these decisions are important, but most are trivial.
Either way, it’s exhausting.
By the time it’s noon, it feels like you just don’t have any mental energy left to make well thought out decisions.
As a result, you end up making a lot more bad decisions.
You decide to drink a soda instead of water or you decide to check social media instead of getting some work done.
Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be like this.
Why Too Many Decisions Is A Bad Thing
Researchers have actually studied the effect that making too many decisions can have on our lives. And what studies consistently show is that our capacity to consistently make well thought out decisions is finite.
What this means is that when you use your brainpower earlier in the day deciding what to eat for breakfast, for example, you’ll consequently have less of it later in the day when you have to decide if you should have that piece of cake or not.
As a result, you’ll most likely give in and decide to eat the cake.
This is what’s known as decision fatigue, which is the psychological condition where making a decision in the present will reduce your decision-making ability in the future.
John Tierney, the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling book “Willpower,” says,
“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.”
Simply put, every decision you make uses up your mental energy. Just the simple act of thinking about whether you should choose A or B will tire you out and reduce your brainpower.
Therefore, the more decisions you have to make throughout the day, the weaker your decision-making process will become.
How Successful People Make Fewer Decisions
Many successful individuals like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Albert Einstein understood that less time spent on making decisions meant more brainpower and time for everything else.
Because of this, they decided to reduce the number of decisions they make throughout the day by doing things such as choosing to adopt a monotonous wardrobe.
For instance, Mark Zuckerberg typically wears a gray t-shirt with jeans. When asked why he does this, he said,
“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.”
Steve Jobs famously wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers every day. This quickly became his signature look as well as a part of the overall brand of Apple. Steve also understood that he had a finite capacity of brainpower to make well thought out decisions. A minute more a day using his brainpower to decide which t-shirt to wear is less brainpower he would have to think about his company.
For the majority of his time in office, former President Barack Obama would wear either a blue or gray suit. In a Vanity Vair interview, Obama explained,
“I’m trying 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.”
Albert Einstein was also known for owning several variations of the same gray suit so that he wouldn’t have to waste time and brainpower deciding on which outfit to wear every morning.
What Simplifying Your Life Looks Like
You may think that successful individuals like Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Einstein are a little weird for wearing the same thing every day, but the reason they do is absolutely correct.
Yes, life may be a little more boring if you wear the same thing every day. But if fashion is really important to you, then you don’t necessarily need to wear the same outfit every day.
Instead, you can reduce the number of decisions you make by doing other things.
For example, here are 5 things you can do:
- Like Steve, Zuckerberg, and Einstein, find a few t-shirts, sweaters, jeans, and dresses you like and buy multiple quantities of them. Then essentially wear the same thing every day.
- Design a morning routine. The morning is filled with a lot of mundane decisions that you can learn to automate such as what to wear, what to eat, what time to leave, what time to wake up, etc. You can automate all your morning decisions with a routine.
- If you workout, schedule a set time to exercise every day. Don’t constantly use your brainpower trying to think about when is a good time to go for a run or to go to the gym.
- Do all of your grocery shopping on the same day, once a week.
- Make a few meals that you have every day the same. This can be a great dieting tool, but the main idea is you don’t want to be worrying about what to make, which ingredients to use and what the nutritional value of each meal is throughout the day, every day.
These are just 5 of the hundreds of decisions that you make throughout the day that you can learn to automate. But truthfully, you could probably automate and eliminate about 80% of the decisions you make every day. You just have to notice which decisions aren’t high-quality important decisions and then automate those.
Go Simplify Your Life!
Life is mentally exhausting enough. So if you’re constantly worrying every day about little decisions like what to wear, then you’ll become even more mentally exhausted as the day goes on.
As a result, you’ll make a lot more bad decisions when it matters most.
You’ll get angry at your partner for something small, you’ll buy junk food you shouldn’t eat, and you’ll spend money on stuff you don’t need.
Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, save your mental power for the important decisions of the day by reducing the number of decisions you make on a daily basis.
By doing this, you’ll find yourself becoming significantly less stressed, more productive and overall happier.
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