• Too many daily decisions use up valuable mental energy
  • Simplify and automate small decisions in life to make more headspace
  • Use the majority of your brainpower on big and important decisions
You’ve been in these kinds of situations all the time.

You’re faced with making a choice among a bunch of different options. And when there are a ton of options, it makes the whole process worse.

It’s the classic “Cheesecake Factory” menu dilemma. There are so many choices that you can’t decide and it can get frustrating as fuck sometimes. Your mind hops from one entrée to another, then to the long list of appetizers and then back again to the endless assortment of main dishes.

This same kind of shit happens at work too.

Among the millions of stock images, which one should you use for the intro slide?

Which color font should you use for the new data cells in the excel file?

What should be your email greeting for this broadcast message?

It goes on and on. But, you gotta stop fucking around and get shit done. The challenge is that there are a ton of decisions that you need to make at work, both small and big.

The problem is that you only have so much brainpower at your disposal for the day and you can’t be spending it on little bullshit things when bigger and more important decisions need to be made.

You gotta be smart about how you make decisions.

Decision Fatigue Is For Real

Every day you make a shitload of decisions. Sometimes, you don’t even realize you're making a decision but you are.

It’s everything from what to wear in the morning to what to eat for dinner in the evening. You are constantly making choices from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep in bed.

Occasionally, we might even have to make a huge life-changing or tough decision, like whether or not to take a new job or maybe even switch careers. More often though, you’re making a lot of regular decisions throughout the day. And these can be personal or work-related decisions.

According to this study from Case Western University, it’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each and every day. This includes microdecisions like which coffee mug you’ll be using for your first cup of joe to larger decisions like which strategy you will be recommending to the clueless executives.

All of these decisions, whether they’re big or small, can add up and lead to decision fatigue. Yup, it's a real thing and it's something we experience every day.

We've all heard the saying, “making decisions is tiring”. Turns out, there is lots of scientific evidence to back that up.

And when you get to that point where you’re just tired of trying to make a decision, you either make a shitty choice and drop the ball or resort to having someone or something else make the decision for you - like flipping a coin.

This is what you want to avoid. 

Key Strategy: Reduce Decision Overload

If you've ever found yourself standing in front of the closet for fifteen minutes in the morning just trying to decide what to wear, only to end up picking the first thing you laid your hands on, then you know how quickly small decisions can consume mental energy fast.

And while it may not seem like a big deal to spend a few extra minutes choosing between black and navy blue, the truth is that these types of decisions can actually have a major impact on your day-to-day productivity.

This is because each time you have to make a decision, no matter how small, you're using up a limited amount of mental energy.

So, if you start your day by trying to decide among a closet full of outfits, you're likely to find yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed before you even leave home for work.

Then, after you fight through the stressful commute, you get to your desk and now there are more important decisions that need to be made. And this is where you can’t fuck things up, especially with big projects.

Wrong decisions on critical issues can lead to shit hitting the fan and you getting all the blame for it. And, that ain’t good for your personal brand.

The solution is to reduce the number of small, insignificant decisions you have to make each day and leave more headspace for the important ones. This can be done by simplifying and reducing the number of choices or options and then routinizing it. 

Step #1: Simplify & Reduce Options

When you reduce the number of choices or options, you make decisions much faster.

It’s like ordering coffee at a local donut shop or diner. You get your choice of regular or decaf - that’s it. Whereas, if you walk into a trendy hipster coffee shop, you’ll be staring at the billboard menu of choices for eternity.

The goal here is to reduce the number of choices available to you so that you can quickly move on and don’t feel stuck in analysis paralysis.

For example, you probably have a lot of outfits but in reality, you only really wear maybe five to ten outfits consistently. The rest are just hanging there for those occasions that really don’t happen much at all, if ever. Sell those outfits, give ‘em to friends or donate them. Reduce the number of options.

Steve Jobs took this idea to the extreme by only wearing black mock turtleneck shirts and jeans. Mark Zuckerberg kinda continues this idea with his hoodies when he’s not in a suit for the media. Both did this to reduce the number of decisions and mental effort.

They may be considered the pioneers in this, but let’s be real - Charlie Brown was THE pioneer of the one outfit strategy. You gotta give props to the OG.

Apply this same idealogy to all of the smaller and less significant choices in your daily life to reduce mental fatigue. Which in turn, can also help you manage work stress like a champ.

Step #2: Routinize Small Decisions

Once you have cut back on the number of choices for each decision, then the next key step is to automate the process for yourself. Meaning, make it so that it’s automatic and thoughtless.

Do you ever give any thought to brushing your teeth in the morning?

Neither do we. And that’s because it’s automatic to the point that you’re doing it on autopilot.

You want to achieve this same kind of automatic response to the small and less significant decisions in your day. The ideal situation is when you can string together a series of daily decisions so that they happen in an automated sequence without much thought or effort on your part.

Choose one outfit and stick with it.

Eat your single most favorite breakfast food every morning.

Take the same commuting route to work.

See? You get the idea. It’s all about getting in the groove and keeping momentum.

This can become so automated that sometimes you can’t even remember what you did during your morning routine.

By streamlining your decision-making process, you'll free up your brainpower so that you can focus on more important things at work.

How To Make Good Decisions Consistently

With all of the smaller and less significant decisions automated and out of the way, you’re preserving the majority of your mental energy on the other remaining decisions that are more important or require more thought and analysis on your part.

Making good decisions is key to a successful career. You have to be able to weigh the pros and cons of every key decision, and make the best choice and recommendation for your multiple bosses and the company.

And now that you have saved your mental processing capacity for these kinds of decisions, you now have to optimize it.

Here are a few tips on how to do that.

1) Make Big Decisions During Your “Prime Time”

Everybody has different working styles, methods and phases of when they’re most productive. Some people are at their best in the early morning with peace and quiet. Some really get in the zone in the afternoon with music blaring. While others get cranking in the evenings.

Whatever part of the day is your “prime time” for productivity and focus, use that part of the day for your most important and big decisions. This is when you’re firing on all cylinders and you’ve got plenty of brainpower to work through problems and do deep analysis. 

2) Don’t Make Decisions When You’re Pissed Off Or Emotional

We all know the saying “don't make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions." It's so true, but for some reason people still fucking do it.

Successful decision makers recognize and understand their own feelings, including how intense or powerful those thoughts/emotions can be, which helps them look at issues objectivity when considering what to do.

Unfortunately most of us aren’t good managing our own emotional states - only about 35% can accurately identify a feeling as soon as it starts to happen. The rest of us don’t realize it until we’re about to lose our shit.

So, if you’re in a shitty mood, pissed off about some difficult pain in the ass coworkers or in any negtive type of emotion, don’t make any key decisions at this time. Chances are that it’ll be the wrong decision.

3) Evaluate Options Objectively Without Being Biased

When making a decision, successful people weigh their options against pre-determined criteria because they know that this makes decisions easier and more effective. It helps because it put them into a more rational state of mind and less of an emotional one.

Here are some helpful considerations to take into account.

How will this decision benefit me?

What's going happen if I don't do it?

Is there another alternative available to consider instead of picking one option over another?

Do these choices reflect your values as an individual or those held by groups with whom you identify?

What are the pros and cons of each option?

When you can write these all down and see them from a more objective and impartial perspective, it makes the decision making process easier and you won’t be banging your head against the wall as much.

4) Sleep On Big Important Decisions

There’s nothing as anxiety filling than being forced to make an important decision on something with very little time to think things through. But, when you have the ability to let things sink into your head and get absorbed in your conscious or subconscious thought, then you can process it more thoroughly.

When you sleep on your decision, you’ll have better clarity the next day. This gives you the chance to disconnect from work and process what happened before making any final decisions about this issue or situation.

You’ve gotta let the decision percolate in the deep recesses of your brain. Believe it or not, this is when your brain is thinking without actively thinking. It’s all happening in the background and sometimes even when you’re zoning out, you’ll have an ah-ha moment that will generate an idea or thought that you didn’t think about when you were actively thinking about it.

So, don’t jump into big decisions right away. Go home, go through your evening routine and sleep on it so that you can let your brain process things a bit more. Then, the following day, there’s a good chance that you’ll have the right choice in mind.

5) Ask Other Experts For Their Feedback

Ever heard of confirmation bias?

This is when you pre-choose an option and then gather information or evidence that supports that choice instead of first gathering all the data and then, making a decision based upon the data.

This can lead you down a path where you might not look at all of the possible options or you might shortchange and unfairly downgrade the other choices. This type of thinking may cause more problems than it solves.

To beat these impulses, you gotta hit up the experts in your circles. Or, at the very least, get with your work BFF. You need to get outside opinions from people who don’t have a stake in it. This allows them to provide impartial feedback.

Get several different perspectives on your situation. This will help you weigh options objectively without being biased.

Make Smart Decisions For A Happier Life

We all have a shit ton of decisions we need to make very single day of our lives. Not every one of those are critical or important. However, they all do use up mental energy.

By reducing, simplifying and automating the number of small decisions you make every day, you free up your brainpower to focus on bigger, more important things. By having more energy on these kinds of bigger decisions, you can make smarter choices that will result in better outcomes.

And of course, you also minimize the chances of fucking things up.

So before you go any further, ask yourself…

What small bullshit things can I simplify and automate in my life today?

How can I make better choices about when to use my brainpower?

And finally, for the big important decisions, is there someone who can help me evaluate my options objectively and keep me in check?

When it comes down to it, making good decisions ain’t easy and can be overwhelming as fuck. But with a little bit of effort, you can make smart decisions more consistently. And when you do, life’s gonna be much better.

Oh yeah, one last thing - about the Cheesecake Factory menu dilemma, just stick with your favs ‘cause you know it’ll be good.

Feel Better,

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