The Art Of Avoiding Decision Fatigue Or Ego Depletion

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The Art Of Avoiding Decision Fatigue Or Ego Depletion

In our series of mental optimisation articles so far, we have taken a look at: optimising the brain and getting the basics in place, how what you eat affects your productivity, optimising your processes so you can work smarter, and developing habits to help you become more organised.

Today we’re going to look at an equally important part of self optimisation: how to avoid decision fatigue or a phenomenon called ego depletion.

The basic premise behind decision fatigue is that you have a limited amount of mental energy at your disposal everyday. This means that every decision you make depletes the pool of mental energy you have available. It also means that the quality of your decision-making ability deteriorates as your mental energy depletes.


The Knock-On Effect

As your mental energy becomes depleted, so too do you find it more difficult to exercise self-control. This extends beyond the decision-making thought-processes and into behaviours.

This could mean that your ability to make healthy food choices is compromised, even though you may have committed yourself to a more wholesome way of life. It could also mean that you respond tersely to the people in your family, even though you care about them.

If you think about your mind as a program running on your brain and your brain not having enough energy, it’s possible that the program could become corrupted. In reality, this could result in mood swings or the inability to be fully present in your social and personal interactions.


How Do You Avoid Decision Fatigue?

You obviously can’t get away from making decisions, but you can avoid making trivial decisions that waste your mental cycles. If you do this, you can give yourself more mental energy for being creative and perform more effectively in situations that are important to you. In other words, if you avoid ego depletion, by managing the trivial things, you can enjoy a better quality of life.

Ritualise your life, or develop routines, especially in the mornings, which will shape your day and what you get out of it.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

By avoiding trivial decisions like which clothes you should wear to the office, what you should eat for breakfast, or what route you should take to the office, until you get to work, you can conserve your limited mental resources and be more productive and creative.

Sure, many famous and successful people have adopted their own work uniforms, with a view to establishing their own personal branding. But the likes of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and even Barack Obama also undertook to wear the same outfits every day because by doing this, they were able to avoid making decisions on their wardrobes every day.

Develop contingency responses so you are always prepared. Your life will not always run like clockwork, but if you have a contingency plan, you can adapt to changes with less disruption. Why? When things do go off-kilter (and you can bet they will at some point), you can respond without making a decision because you have made it in advance.

How does this play out in real life?

  • If a particular stretch of road becomes congested during rush hour, decide which back-up route you will take.
  • If you over-sleep in the morning and don’t have time to make your usual breakfast, have a nutrition shake available so you don’t skip a meal.
  • If it rains in the morning and you usually cycle to work, know in advance that you will be catching the 7.15am train instead.
  • If you get home late from work, have a quick and nutritious “one pot” recipe on hand so you aren’t tempted to buy fast food on your way back from the office.


Everything Happens For A Reason. Sometimes It’s Because You Make Bad Decisions.

Every day you are faced with numerous decisions. It’s not the choice itself that changes; rather, it’s your response to it that could be different. Instead of putting yourself in a position where you need to make a choice on the spot, make check lists, or maintain a calendar, of how you should spend your time in advance.

Use an App like Cosapien so you know which tasks need to be completed. Link it to your calendar. Ritualise your responses for the events you know are going to happen on a regular basis. Let Cosapien take care of it for you, so you have more mental capacity to deal with the tasks and make the decisions that are really important to you.


How to avoid decision fatigue, in summary:
  • You have a limited amount of mental energy at your disposal everyday
  • Every decision you make depletes this pool of mental energy
  • If you can avoid trivial decisions, you have more mental energy available for being creative and to use in situations that are important to you
  • Automate your decision-making process with Cosapien to free up your mental resources so you can focus more on what you want to be doing with your time.
  • Ritualise your morning routine so that you defer decision-making until you arrive at work, and so that you allow yourself to focus on important decisions.

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 Freemium SME / Group Business Enterprise Intelligence

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