Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor, pianist and influential music teacher. One of her famous sayings is without discipline there can be no freedom. One way to explain this is by making choices – disciplining yourself – you eliminate making more decisions. This creates a lot of space.
So, I decided a while ago to eat only vegan and gluten-free for a certain amount of time. I wanted to figure out how that would make me feel.
I have to admit that there were quite a lot of consequences: no more dairy, no eggs, no normal bread, no biscuits, etc., etc. Once I started checking all the ingredients on packages I noticed how many products contain eggs or gluten.
Of course, I had the impression that it would be extremely difficult to follow a diet with so many restrictions. However, I discovered things were getting easier. I didn’t need to decide anymore if I was going to eat that cookie or not, or have that dessert or not. The choice was made, I disciplined myself and didn’t need to take any more decisions. It was really easy!
No more decision fatigue
I got rid of decision fatigue: the phenomena that the more decisions you make, the harder it gets to make the right decision. Barack Obama, Marck Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs were regarded as the example of limiting the number of decisions they make in a day. They reduced their choice of outfits. By only deciding between one or two outfits, decisions are limited and you gain decision-energy; you will have more willpower.
What does constantly play on your mind, or what decisions are you postponing? What is depleting your willpower? How could you use your energy differently?
For example, do you hesitate
- Getting up in the morning immediately after your alarm goes off, or to snooze a bit longer?
- To exercise, meditate or stay put on the sofa?
- Deciding what to do first: answering emails, reading that article, start with writing or checking your social media?
- to read a bit more, rewrite your paragraph or change the structure of your introduction now you have started writing your article?
In which area could you use a decision detox?
Reflect on your day and ask yourself: when am I swamped by choices? Then start a decision detox by introducing the following:
- the next 10 days I will start my day with writing and nothing else
- the next two weeks I am not going to work in the evenings or weekends
- the next seven days I will only have half an hour a day of social media use.
Is the idea of decision fatigue actually true?
Some scientists claim that the idea of decision fatigue is nonsense, that it isn’t true that you only have a limited amount of energy for making decisions. Research showed that people who didn’t believe in the idea of the limitation of decision energy and willpower, showed more willpower in stressful situations than others because they had the impression that it was important to focus on the task at hand.
From this point of view, it won’t make any difference to believe in decision fatigue or not. In case you don’t believe in it, you will focus more, in case you do believe in it, the decision detox is an excellent way to regain your focus. So, choose and start your own n=1 experiment!