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Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

Fewer options and decision making

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.

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Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

Exhausted by Options - Nat Eliason

https://www.nateliason.com/blog/decision-fatigue

nateliason.com

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Key Ideas

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.

Fewer options and decision making

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.

Systems for decision making

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.

Remove the need to take action

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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Reverse Your Assumptions

You're so prone to continue making the same kind of choices throughout your life that challenging yourself and doing the exact opposite is often the best way to get around this problem. 

The idea here is to confront your default behavior, step outside your comfort zone, and use your imagination to test some completely new ideas.

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"Good" Decisions

  • Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones, since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light.
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Step away from the problem

Distancing yourself from a problem can help you face it in a more objective way. 

Instead of remaining in your own frame of mind, consider yourself as an outside observer, such as a friend giving advice or a fly on the wall. Removing yourself in this way helps you filter out some of your cognitive biases and lean you toward a more rational decision.

Give yourself some time

Accuracy and reliability in decision making tends to increase if you first give yourself some time to decompress and collect yourself.

This may also help you remove yourself from the problem, knocking out two of these strategies at a time.

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Make all important & difficult decisions on paper

It relieves pressure from the situation and allows your mind to focus on the task at hand, rather than spiraling into self-doubt and second-guessing.

When making decisions, get clear about your reasons

You’ve got to get absolutely crystal clear about your outcome and your purpose. If you forget the reasons behind your decision, you won’t follow through. 

Don't let fear motivate your decision making

And don’t wait for absolute certainty because you’ll almost never get it. One of the ways to overcome this is to have a consistent process for making decisions. 

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