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Image / Editorial

This Is Why You Get ‘Decision Fatigue’


by Holly O'Neill
23rd Feb 2017
This Is Why You Get ‘Decision Fatigue’

Have you ever made a decision on what to eat without having a row? Can you teach me?

No, I don’t care where we eat. Not in any of the places you just suggested. Whatever you want.

I’don’t know, you decide. Whatever you want. I don’t’mind.

Honestly, I’m easy. Whatever you fancy.

NO, NOT CHINESE.

I know exactly what I do not want to eat. Decision making is hard, especially when it comes to food. By the time my mind is made up on where to eat, I’m too hungry for it not to be exactly what I wanted, and I’m on the road to hangry. You won’t like me when I’m hangry. And it’s not just food! Deciding what to watch is a nightly struggle.

Can you relate? Or do you make decisions like a normal functioning adult?

Liar.

If you can relate, it’s not your fault. It’s your brain’s fault. You’ve already made too many decisions in one day for your brain to deal with. You need to reduce the amount of unnecessary decisions that aren’t so crucial in your life, to give yourself the mental space to focus on the important ones. It’s why you feel so mentally exhausted after’shopping!

Barack Obama told Vanity Fair a few years ago that he only wears blue suits or grey suits. ?I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing.?Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

You can routinize yourself like Barack suggests, by making effective habits for your trivial decisions throughout the day.?Being a creature of habit will take away your choice and willpower and help routinize petty or unimportant decisions. For example, what to wear. Steve Jobs always wore a black turtle neck with New Balance trainers and blue jeans. When was the last time you saw Karl Lagerfeld not wearing a black suit, high-collared white shirt and tie and black leather gloves? When it comes to hairstyles, Karl Lagerfeld has been wearing a ponytail for 40 years. Anna Wintour has had the same hairstyle since she was 15 years old.

When Obama explained his suit habits to Vanity Fair, he?”mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions.”

This research is the phenomenon known as decision fatigue, by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. His research states that the more decisions we have to make throughout the day, the harder it becomes for our brains to make them. He concludes?that humans have limited willpower, and we will break resolutions and goals and tasks if we’re given a chance, especially if our day is stressful or challenging.

Now back to the mental exhaustion of shopping – this is why they keep sweets all around the tills! It’s not just in the supermarket, even high street brands have sweets at the checkout now. You’ll want to treat yourself after a stressful day of hard decision making, and they know your willpower is weak.

In an 1998 experiment on exercising willpower when it comes to decision making, Dr Baumeister gave hungry participants either?two cookies, or two radishes. Participants with radishes were told not to touch the cookies. When they finished eating, they had to solve a puzzle. Participants with radishes quit trying to solve the puzzle faster than those with cookies.

So basically, you need healthy habits to aid routinizing your trivial decision-making, so you can make better decisions without losing your willpower.

Now that I know this and have established that what I eat later is a trivial decision, I might look into something new to eat tonight. Any ideas? I don’t mind. Whatever you want. Honestly, I’m easy. You decide. NO! Not Chinese.


Featured image, Instagram.

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