Should I write first or do mindfulness?
Should I respond to emails that are piling up or write?
Should I check social media or do something more productive?
Should I exercise or grade papers?
Those might be some of the decisions you need to make at the beginning of your day.
The act of making decisions–thousands of them every day–is draining. I avoid needless expenditures of energy because I love making good use of my time. That’s why I get satisfaction from simplifying my decision-making processes.
Decision making is draining
Simplifying and creating routines reduces your decision fatigue, preserves your energy and saves you time. In my own life, I love that.
I know that productivity has been criticized in the White Supremacy literature and I’m aware that one can go overboard with productivity tips and the drive to get more and more done.
But if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed and the “I’ve got so much to do” tune is on repeat in your head, you’ll want to adopt some of the practices below.
Ways to cut down on decision-making time at home
- Plan what to wear the night before or take some time to plan outfits for the entire week
- I can do the former but definitely not the latter. However, I have heard of people who can plan for the entire week (this person wrote about her own experiment with this).
- Plan dinners for the week on the weekend.
- My daughter and I recently started doing this together–for both family dinners and her school lunches– and I love it. Since she’s a fussy eater, the act of co-planning helps ensure she’ll eat what’s on the family menu.
- Establish a morning routine.
- I wake up between 5:00 am – 6:00 am most mornings. For at least one hour, I sit under the blanket with my computer, and get work done. I always select my early tasks the night before (see here for a post I wrote on that topic, title “Feel overwhelmed? I love to do this”). I usually exercise before 8 am too.
Ways to cut down on decision-making time at work
- Plan your day ahead.
- In addition to my plan-the-night-before approach, I block off time in my online calendar to complete certain tasks. I review my list and, based on what is most pressing, I dedicate chunks of time to that project. I also take 2 minutes to review my day the night before, and again early in the morning, so I’m not surprised by something that has slipped my mind!
- Batch tasks.
- When I’m working on a project, I turn off my computer’s ability to receive emails. Once I have finished my focused work, I ‘reward’ myself with the lighter task of responding to emails. As possible, I set myself a time limit of 10-15 minutes maximum for replying to emails.
- Reduce meeting times.
- I try to schedule my meetings for 45 minutes instead of an hour.
- Pack a lunch.
- When you pack a lunch, you’ll save yourself from having to make decisions about what to eat, how much money to spend, who to eat with etc.
I credit Neil Pasricha‘s book The Happiness Equation for re-igniting my interest in this topic (he focuses on simplifying on pages 160-179).
How to beat decision fatigue: The ultimate guide. Provides an extensive list of practical suggestions ranging from exercise, to food, to work. (published on the Asian Efficiency website)
How to use time blocking at work to get meaningful things done. (this is a post I wrote)
Many of the strategies I’m drawn to when it comes to reducing decision-fatigue fit into the category of “limit your choices“.
Are there areas of your professional and/or personal life where you could narrow and limit your choices to reduce decision-making time? Are there other strategies that you’d like to try out?
Ready to get a better handle on your time?
If you’re ready to step out of constant overwhelm and take action on your priorities, contact me for a conversation about how my coaching support can help you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free consultation here: https://isabeauiqbal.com/contact/ (if you go to the Book Online button, you’ll have direct access to my online calendar).