Repeatedly having to make small, mundane decisions is draining.
The term “decision fatigue” refers to the idea that the more decisions we have to make, the more we tend to rely on mental shortcuts or default options.
This can kill our decision-making quality and lead to an increase in impulsive or irresponsible behaviour.
One study found that people who had to make a lot of decisions throughout the day were more likely to make poor choices in the evening, such as choosing unhealthy snacks over healthier options
Another study found that judges were more likely to grant parole early in the day, but became more conservative as the day went on and were less likely to grant parole.
This suggests that decision fatigue can lead to a depletion of our mental resources and a decrease in our ability to make good decisions.
In the words of psychologist William James, “there is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.”
Habits and routines can help us make automatic decisions, freeing up our mental energy for more important tasks and giving us a sense of control and predictability in our lives.
But it's not just about any old habits – they should be good habits. As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes,
"Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits."
In other words, the habits we form today will ultimately shape our lives in the future.
So don't let indecision and complete freedom hold you back. Instead, focus on building good habits that will set you up for success.
Obama had the iconic blue suits. Mark Zuckerberg has his grey Brunello Cucinelli t-shirts.
What can you decide in advance to remove the stress of 100 future decisions?
And as for your work, what actions can you systematise in such a way that success becomes predictable and automatic?