A bowl of warm oatmeal, a teaspoon of cinnamon powder, a splash of milk, topped with a banana and a drizzle of honey, a mug of warm mocha, and one whole egg omelette, with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. That’s the breakfast I’ve had everyday, for the past five years. When I tell people about this early morning habit of mine, their immediate response would be something like:
“Don’t you ever get bored of it?”
To which I reply
“Do you get bored of breathing air?”
Jk I’m not that cruel (and I’m fun at parties), but to me, the perceptually peculiar concept of having the same menu for breakfast each morning is as mundane a thing as breathing air. And so the answer to that question is simply no, I do not get bored because I treat the entire thing religiously as an essential part of life, removing the word ‘bored’ entirely off my dictionary.
And somehow, following through this habit for five years has led me to unforeseen positive changes in my life. The most significant impact this has played in my life is the appreciable amount of time I have managed to save with the absence of a decision to make. By removing the illusion of choice, my morning routine becomes an automation that I look forward to every morning. This idea then seems so intuitively natural and disproportionally valuable that I started to do a little bit of research on it, and I quickly found that someone came up with a term for it: it’s called ‘decision fatigue’.
The term ‘decision fatigue’, commonly associated with decision making and psychology, refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. This happens in everyday life, such as when you resort to lounging at the couch after a long day of work, instead of going to the gym, or cooking a nice dinner, or doing your laundry — because lounging on the couch is the easy default decision. Moreover, studies have shown that decision fatigue is one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in both the business sphere and judiciary processes.
Take Steve Jobs for example — the tactical mastermind of Apple, the cold-blooded CEO persona, the Silicon Valley tech genius. Yes, he was all that, but something else he was equally famous for is often overlooked by the public eye: his iconic black turtleneck. It’s hard to find an online portrait of him not pictured in a black turtleneck — in fact, it’s probably difficult for you to picture him with anything else. That’s because Steve Jobs, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who was famous for his grey t-shirts, and thousands of other similar practitioners, have well-understood that by removing the notion of decision fatigue out of their wardrobes, they clear up headspace to improve the various other aspects of their lives — which includes helping them make better business decisions.
In addition to all that, morning routines have been widely known to embed properties of mental healing. That’s because time that would have otherwise been spent vigorously thinking and deciding about breakfast or wardrobe choices are simply no longer set in action; they are replaced by automation that frees up one’s mind, allowing them to simply live in the moment. Moreover, by freeing up time, you have additional morning minutes to get into a new habit, maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never found the time to, like meditation, which in itself possesses endless benefits to inject more positivity into your life.
The main idea I’m trying to share with everyone traverses beyond just breakfast — it focuses on the entire concept of ‘decision fatigue’, which runs tangents across and into every single aspect of your life. By being more mindful about the choices you don’t need to make each day, you are freeing up meaningful space in decision-making power’s limited domain.
Let me end this spiel with a short highlight from one of Vanity Fair’s interview with President Barack Obama, who was also a strong proponent of same-breakfast mornings, back while he was in office.
“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.”