Decision fatigue

Decision fatigue

As you make more decisions (especially difficult ones), and as you consider more options, you start to get mentally tired making your subsequent decisions worse and more difficult.

An excess of options will also increase your likelihood to avoid making a decision entirely.

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Problem Solving

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We assume more options will make us happier, but that's not true.

By strategically decreasing the number of decisions we need to make we're making sure we actually choose something, and we can save our decisiveness for when it really counts.

Rules

A rule is a predetermined response to a given situation, a set action for how you’ll handle a common situation so that you don’t waste any time trying to decide between two or more small and unimportant options.

Examples: "I Never answer calls from unrecognized numbers" or "I don’t check email before 10 am, after 7 pm, or on Saturday."

Priorities

They remind you of what you believe you should spend your time on so that even when you’re caught up in momentary excitement you stick to your goals.

They help in dealing with big decisions.

You can create systems to offload decision making. The simplest type of system is a bunch of rules strung together into a chain of good decisions, where each on mandates the next.

For example: Put your workout clothes out at night so that when you wake up you immediately put them on and go running.

Checklists

A checklist must be completed every time you’re going through a repeated process.

Areas where simple checklists can make your life much easier: for a  list of things you need to remember each morning or for a task you repeat every day, week, or even month at work.

If you can completely remove the need to do anything then you’re saving the greatest amount of willpower and decisiveness. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Automate.
  • Silence (your technology, to remove the decision of checking or not checking that message you received).
  • Delegate/Outsource. 

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RELATED IDEAS

  • Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones, since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light.
  • Thought-out decisions tend to trump impulsive ones, because you've spent more time on the problem.
  • Flexible decisions tend to trump concrete ones. Some eventual degree of flexibility usually offers more adaptable options.

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IDEAS

Pretend You're Advising a Friend

Think outside yourself a little and pretend like you're offering advice. 

The reasoning here is really simple: your short-term emotions get in the way of decisions, and that clouds your judgment. It's hard to break free of your emotions, but it helps to know they affect your choices.

We are exposed to biases that influence our ability to make good decisions.
  • We are quick to jump to conclusions because we fail to search for information that might disprove our thoughts.
  • We're overconfident. We look for information that fits our ideas and ignore information that doesn't.

Knowing these and other biases is not enough. We need a framework for making decisions.

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