You know what it is you want to do, but somehow you find yourself doing something else. You want to get some work done, but find yourself watching silly cat videos on Youtube. Maybe you find yourself checking your email for something new when you already have hundreds of emails in your inbox?
Then the end of the day comes, and your work is not complete.
What can you do?
Find Ways to Grow
I believe you want to grow. Your internal drive makes you want to do better. This is a common bond that unites us. We all want to do more with our limited resources. When you see progress, you feel good about it, and that gives you the momentum to do great work. When you have this positive momentum, you can even achieve a state of flow.
Increase Your Knowledge
The most important tool you have, is your brain. Everything you do is a result of activity in your brain. Just as you have to learn how to use a computer, you also need to know more about your brain in order to use it well. Over the years, human beings have developed as a species. Our bodies are well equipped to go into survival mode when there is not enough to eat. After three days without food, your body moves from burning sugar and starts to use fat as an energy source. Your brain is very powerful and useful.
Your brain will help you—if you let it.
When you get into trouble, the problem lies between the interaction in your brain and your rapidly changing environment. When you understand how your brain operates, you can better adapt to our surroundings. This knowledge allows you to cooperate with our brain and then you can use the brain’s full potential.
In my continuing quest for better results with my limited resources, I face challenges and bottlenecks. But here’s the thing…there is always another bottleneck, it never stops. There will always be problems that pop up.
One of my most recent bottlenecks was that I did not know enough about how my brain works. The brain is complex. Even brain scientists do not fully understand how the brain works. We know that our brain is made of three parts: the brain stem, the mammalian brain, and the neocortex. In our evolution from bacteria to human beings, our brains have evolved.
Let’s look closer at each part of the brain:
The Brainstem controls all the basic functions to survive. Specifically, brain stem plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac and respiratory function. It also regulates the central nervous system and is pivotal in maintaining consciousness and regulating the sleep cycle. The brainstem has many basic functions including heart rate, breathing, sleeping, and eating.
The mammalian brain is important for the survival of the ‘human species. There are four main areas where we use our mammalian brains to make decisions.
- Fight, flight or freeze – When there is a danger, you make one of these decisions.
- Food – Energy is needed to survive.
- Sex – Without sex, the species does not survive.
- Friends – in our evolution, the “tribe” played an important role in survival.
The Neocortex is what makes us human. This portion of the brain is what helps you make conscious decisions. The neocortex is involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans, language.
Decision Fatigue And The Brain
Decision fatigue is when you do not have enough mental energy to operate your neocortex. At that moment, you have mammalian brainpower. Each of us makes approximately thirty-five thousand decisions daily. Each of these decisions takes mental energy; it is not surprising that you’re tired at the end of your day. The fewer decisions you take during your day, the more conscious decisions you can make.
Here are some simple ways to make fewer decisions:
1. Use our Master Your Todo list method.
Our methodology is designed to help you make fewer decisions. For example, the same kind of decisions is batched. You use your calendar and four tables to drastically minimize your number of decisions.
2. Decide for the next three weeks, look at how you make decisions.
The fewer decisions you make, the better. Think about how you decide what to eat in a restaurant. How do you decide what clothes you wear? It is not an accident that Mark Zuckerberg still carries the same output.
3. Over the next two weeks, pass on as many decisions as possible to someone else.
Last week I was at a restaurant with a friend. I ate the same meal as he did. This also makes things pretty easy for the kitchen.
4 Plan ahead what you will eat.
I really enjoy the book The Kitchen Revolution. This book can help you figure out your meal planning.
5 Set boundaries that lead to fewer decisions
How often do you go to your inbox each day? How much time do you spend online? Technology allows you to set limits with tools like StayFocusd or InboxWhenReady.
Create Decision Routines
When you craft a decision routine for decisions you make on a recurring basis, you preserve your mental energy. While this does take intentionality, it is most definitely worth doing.
- Use OHIO to make fewer decisions. This simple word OHIO stands for Only Handle It Once. When you use this approach, you can make fewer decisions. Remember, indecision is one of the worst possible decisions as it is a serious mental energy drain. And you do not necessarily have to use our schedule, but you MUST have one. If you do not have one, you have several, and it leads to making the same decisions again.
- Determine each week your ideal week. How to determine the priorities for the coming week?
If you figure out what your ideal week looks like, you will have to make more decisions for your week.
- Make a decision routine for investment. This was easy at my previous employer. If you could show that the revenues were greater than the costs, then could let make your investment.
How do you decide to make an investment for your productivity? Do you have an idea what’s an hour of your time is worth?
- Have a morning and evening routine. Routines are some steps that you follow to accomplish a particular task or result. You can view these as bookends for the day. How you wake up and go to sleep are the most important routines because they impact your life today as well as your day tomorrow.
- Support your body with a number of tasks. Our body goes through different cycles. When starting a cycle, this requires energy. In the morning, have for example increased blood pressure. For that, you will create hormones to bring about that change. That will cost you energy. You can support your body by morning to drink a glass of water with Himalayan salt. Your body can use energy later in the day.
- Avoid notifications for your brain. In today’s society, we receive messages all the time. At the moment, we must decide whether we are going to ignore the notification or respond. You always lose by draining mental energy (making a decision) or time.
- Upgrade your sleep. A rested brain is a resilient brain. Just ask new parents with a baby what happens to productivity when you don’t get enough sleep.
- Read the book Headstrong. Lastly, I recommend D. Asprey’s book Headstrong which shares ways to tap into brain energy through experimentation.
Do you have any suggestions for how to reduce decision fatigue?