Every single day, we’ve all got tiny decisions to make.
What will I wear today?
What will we eat this lunch?
When should I head out today?
What time should I go to bed today?
What article will I read now on Medium?
The list goes on and on.
Most of those we do out of habit and believe we don’t really think about those.
You might almost instantly take that shirt because you’ve worn it many times with those pants and they go well together. You might go to that restaurant for lunch because it’s the closest and you’re used to it.
And yet, just as you can see above, there are reasons why you chose one thing over another. Which means you’ve used your brain, even if for just a second.
Let’s clear the myth.
We do not have unlimited brain supply.
Yes, we’ve all heard we use only a part of our brain. Yes, we’ve all taken decisions until the moment we go to bed every day. This should mean we can make decisions until the last moment, right?
While, like many of us, I’m unclear on the details of how our brain works precisely, one thing is obvious: we make worse decisions as time goes by during the day.
By the time we get to bed, our decisions are often downright awful.
An episode from my favorite TV series gets even more precise in its title: Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M.
I’ve found the threshold of 2 a.m. doesn’t work that well with me since I start making bad decisions much before then. Often starting 10 p.m.
But why do we make worse decisions?
Tiny choices ruin our energy.
That’s just it. Even if it’s just a tiny choice, you’ll still interrupt whatever you are doing and use some of your mental power left.
What if you were in the middle of a big project and all of a sudden you see noon is getting close. You’re starting to get hungry but you can still bear with it. You’d like to finish your project but you’re also well-aware you won’t finish before starving. How do you do?
There’s no right answer here. You might decide to go right now since you’ve already interrupted yourself, or go late and bear with the starvation feeling you know will arise. Or maybe even just stop again in a while.
All those decisions can be great. But there’s an even better one: having your time set in advance.
If you’ve decided this week you’ll eat every day at noon sharp, then you can take that decision off your mind. When you’ll see the clock, you can just proceed with your work until you reach that threshold you’ve set.
No thinking required and your concentration can be kept full on the current task.
There are daily choices which need to go away
Finally, I’ll leave you with a few ways to curb your daily habits and get rid of a few uselessly useful decisions.
- Before the week starts, check the weather forecast and have at least 6 sets of clothes ready. Why 6? Because if the weather changes (rain or temperature) at the last moment, you can just take that 6th one instead of having to think about it.
- Before the week, decide on as many meals as possible, along with their times. If you have the time, you can even cook part or all of it already!
- Have a rather fixed schedule when it comes to waking up and going to bed. The more automatic your tasks are when you get out of bed or before getting in, the less time they’ll take and the less brain power you’ll waste.
- If you read articles daily, choose a specific topic per day. I personally like to switch from Language-related to Writing to Self-improvement a day at a time. When it’s not the right day, I’ll often just save it for the next one!
- If you work out, have an organized schedule of tasks during training sessions. The fewer thoughts you have to put in, the more you can focus on the training itself.
- If you smoke and work, have your smoke breaks at fixed times. This will save you from two situations: when something which triggers you (good or bad) suddenly happens and when you see the time and think you’d like one. Who knows? This might even allow you to reduce the amount you smoke!
Sounds like a boring life, too organized, too stoic to be fun?
If you think so, try it for a week or two and get back to me. I’m sure you’ll have seen how much this actually allows for more flexibility for other decisions!