Question for you: how many decisions have you made today? This blog note goes out at 8 am, and I’m guessing you’ve thought about lots of different choices and options for your time if you’ve been up for more than an hour. Decisions like what you’re going to wear, what to have for breakfast, pack lunch or eat out, what tasks to work on this morning, should I clean the toilet today, etc.
Last week I gave a couple tips on self-management, one of which included the suggestion to lay out clothes and pack lunch the night before. I suggested this because making decisions takes its toll. When we us our cognitive ability on everyday decisions like what to wear or what to eat for lunch, we use up part of our decision-making energy that could be used for other, more important decisions. If we make too many decisions in a day, we empty our tank and reach decision fatigue (not a good thing). People like Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Shankman, and Barack Obama wear a uniform of sorts because it allows them to focus on more important decisions.
I don’t necessarily wear the same style shirt and pants every day like Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs did, but I do limit the number of items from which I choose. A few years ago, I was at a transition moment in life and decided that I needed to streamline so I could have more time to do important things (efficiency is one of my top values). I often have a hard time picking out what to wear so I thought limiting my wardrobe to around thirty-five items would be helpful. Surprise! Not only was it helpful, but it was liberating. It gave me additional energy to focus on my work as a spiritual director and coach, which requires a significant amount of brain power to deeply listen, reframe, and ask intentionally formed questions. The same thing happened when I decided to pack my lunch at night instead of in the morning: more energy, less decisions, and less anxiety.
Questions to ask yourself:
· What tasks am I doing that take energy away from my life and work priorities? Can I delegate some tasks to keep focused on top tier activities?
· What choices do I make every day that could be eliminated to make my life more focused and productive?
Dig deep and stay curious friends!