decision making powerEvery morning you wake up with a finite amount of decision making willpower. Every decision you make reduces your store of decision making willpower until at some point, usually in the afternoon, you don’t feel like you want to do any more work and you say ‘that’s it’ and go home for the day. This post will give you tips to make the best use of your finite decision making willpower and also some ideas to make it go further.

How does decision making willpower work?

In a typical morning you may need to decide what clothes you are going to wear, decide what you’ll eat for lunch and make yourself a sandwich to take to work, and look around for your keys before you can head out the door. Let’s say you start the day with 500 units of decision making willpower. All these small decisions may have just used up 50 units, leaving you with less in the store. Having less decision making willpower available will mean your decisions are slower, less accurate, more often wrong, and that you will want to call it a day earlier.

So how do you avoid wasting your decision making willpower on trivial tasks?

1. Routinise the mundane tasks

The typical morning described above can be completely changed by routinising the mundane tasks. E.g. you could do these things the night before

  • Put out your clothes the night before
  • Prepare a sandwich and put it in the fridge, ready to take to work the next day
  • Always place your keys in the same place

When you wake up the next morning you’ll now just grab the clothes already laid out, grab your sandwich that’s already prepared, pick up your keys without looking around. You’re now ready to head off and still have your full 500 units of decision making willpower.

Some people have taken this concept further and simply wear the same white shirt every day, so they don’t ever need to decide what to wear.

If you make your morning as efficient as possible, rather than unorganised chaos every time you get up, you’ll have a lot more decision making willpower at your disposal. This will make your decisions faster, more accurate and allow you to maintain high performance for longer through the day.

2. Plan the day the night before

A highly effective and simple productivity tool also preserves your decision making willpower. At the end of the day, take a sheet of paper and plan the tasks you’ll work on tomorrow. Also prioritise the tasks. This way when you start work the next day, you’ll know:

  • What your most important task is (and you can start working on that right away)
  • Other tasks you must make progress on that day
  • The meetings you’re going to attend and the meetings you’re going to decline
  • The next priorities so that you can start working on them if you finish everything else

You’ll be able to get right into it without stalling and thinking about what you’re supposed to be doing.

Consider how the day might unfold without a plan: You get to work and can’t remember what you should be working on, so you use some of your decision making willpower to search through your emails and work out what the next task due is. This is another waste of your decision making willpower. Your decision making power should be used on the actual objectives you are trying to achieve, not on trivial decisions or just organising yourself.

3. Abundance mentality

Having an abundance mentality will help you not to engage in trivial debates and arguments with colleagues. This will ensure you don’t waste your decision making power and can put it to use solving the important problems and helping your team achieve its objectives.

Recharging your store of decision making willpower

Of course, a good night’s sleep will fully restore your decision making willpower, however there are a few things you can try to recharge a bit throughout the day. This will let you go on for longer before reaching that point where you feel depleted and want to call it a day.

1. Recharge with an Activity away from your desk

Sometimes when you’ve been working for a while you feel you need a break and go for a quick walk. You come back feeling refreshed and get back into your work with new energy. If you start the day with 500 units and get down to 200 in the afternoon, that walk might have recharged 20 units.

Walking is not the only activity you can try. A lunchtime sport, or shorter 15 min bursts of catching up with friends might work better for you.

If you take this idea further and plan for 3 or 4 of these recharge activities, this could add up a significant amount of extra decision making willpower. Having this extra power would allow you to keep working through the afternoon and remaining effective without depleting all your willpower.

2. Recharge with a Nap

Some people have found the old 15 minute power nap to be a very effective way of recharging some of your decision making power. There’s also meditation and reflection that you can try.

What are your best tips on making the best use of your decision making willpower?