Today, I’m sharing a few simple strategies to help you perform at your best all day long. They’re hacks that will help you think clearer, make better decisions, get more done, AND have some gas left at the end of the day for the important stuff.
How does that sound to you? Good?
Good. Let’s dig in.
Before we get into the hacks, we need to talk about decision fatigue — because it’s the phenomenon that underlies this whole shebang…
What is decision fatigue?
According to The Psychology of Economic Decisions, “Decision fatigue explains the deteriorating quality of decisions made after a long session of decision-making.” In basic terms, this means… the more decisions you make in a day (big or small), the more you will start to experience a diminishing ability to make GOOD decisions over time.
And hey… whether we’re going after big dreams and goals… or we’re just living life… our decisions matter.
When we make high quality decisions, we tend to make intentional choices that serve us well.
Plus, if we’re feeling overwhelmed… especially towards the end of the day… decision fatigue could be the culprit.
So… How do you beat it?
Hack #1: The Marky Z. Strategy
When you reduce the number of decisions you have to make every morning, you start your day with more energy and sustain quality decision making longer.
One way to reduce your morning decisions is by taking a page out of Mark Zuckerburg’s and Steve Jobs’s playbooks. Mark Zuckerberg has a relatively simple fashion playlist. Pretty much t-shirts and hoodies, right? Steve Jobs was the same. He wore the same black mock turtleneck and sweet dad jeans every day.
This wasn’t just fashion laziness. These guys recognized that eliminating small, menial decisions early on in the day (like what to wear) kept them fresh longer. Wearing the same thing removed that distracting decision from their days.
I like clothes too much to do that! But I tap into the Marky Z. Strategy with my own spin:
At the end of each day, I set out clothes for the next morning — down to my socks and shoes. It’s still a decision, yes! But because it’s not an important decision, I’m comfortable making it at the end of the day when my “decision juice” is running low. So it’s a much more efficient use of my energy.
It’s one less thing to decide in the morning, which keeps me on track and focused.
Hack #2. The Calendar Filter
I recently finished writing my second book, Dream Job Redefined, and had to employ this hack all the time to get ‘er done!
Writing a lot of my book came relatively easily because it was based on people I’m inspired by and concepts I’m passionate about. But the last chapter hit at a time when my team and I were super busy. We were traveling around the country with our Big Dream Gathering campus tour and we had tons of other stuff going on work-wise. I was wiped out (in the best possible way!)
I found myself constantly putting off writing that last stinkin’ chapter.
The Calendar Filter is the only way I could finish that dang book!
Here’s how it works…
Around 4:00 every day, I plan out the next day in as much detail as I can. That way, I don’t have to make any decisions in the morning about what I should work on. The plan is already laid out for me.
Every afternoon, I take a look at my ongoing to-do list (which often feels like it’s 1,000 items long) and prioritize my tasks for the next day.
But I don’t stop there, with a list of things I want to do.
I then COMMIT to doing them by assigning the most important tasks to specific time blocks the following day.
So… if I know I have a blog post to write… I’d plug that in to the 8 to 8:45 time slot. If I have a podcast interview, I block out the time for the interview AND the prep. So every task has a time assigned to it.
If I look at my day and there’s no time to do a particular task, I do one of two things:
- Change the deadline for the task, or
- Change my schedule to find room for the task
Employing the Calendar Filter helps me get so much more done and helps me feel less stressed during the day. If I look at my to-do list and see it’s long, it calms me down to know that I’ve got time allotted for everything. It helps me focus on the thing that’s in front of me.
Wanna test out the Calendar Filter?
Take a look at tomorrow’s to-do list and assign the 3-5 highest priority items a time in your calendar. Then wake up tomorrow and follow the plan. Simple!
Hack #3: Decision Clearing
My last trick to overcome decision fatigue is to watch out for places where you don’t know you’re even making decisions. There are all sorts of sneaky decisions we make every day that zap our decision juice… but we can outsmart them with sweet sweet systems and tech solutions.
Here are three ways to do it:
Let technology make decisions for you
Use the wonders of technology and simple automation solutions to eliminate many of your daily and weekly decisions.
- Set up things like automatic bill pay on rent, utilities, student loan payments, and other recurring expenses.
- Use a meal-planning app like Mealime to give you great recipes, so you stop wasting time googling “what should I cook for dinner?”
- Try a fitness app like Sworkit to take the guesswork out of time at the gym and follow proven exercise plans.
These are just a few examples. There are tons of ways to use technology to help you automate many of the decisions you make every day to save your brainpower for the decisions that really matter!
Think about how many emails and social media notifications you get throughout the day. Every time your phone goes ping! with a notification, you make a mini decision whether or not to open it up.
You don’t realize it but you constantly — and I mean constantly — make these kinds of decisions. Your brain has to ask “Is this something I should devote my attention to right now?” And that ultimately drains from your limited tank of decision juice.
Don’t waste your energy on unnecessary decisions like this!
Turn off any unnecessary notifications so your brain doesn’t get distracted.
Block out specific time periods where you check your email or open social media. Instead of clicking over every time you see a new notification, open email only a few times per day. (Some studies say checking email three times per day reduces stress.) Be intentional about social media use and log in with intention, instead of letting notifications run the show.
So there you have ‘em: my 3 hacks for overcoming decision fatigue.
Honestly, I don’t always do these things every day. Sometimes the day doesn’t allow for it and/or surprises happen and I have to flex. But more often than not, if I can do these three hacks, I’m much more clear and excited to get to work in the morning and better and more focused throughout the day.
By making a few tweaks to your routine, you can set yourself up for days that are productive and fulfilling. Plus, one of the additional bonuses of this approach is when you use them… you’ll still have plenty in the emotional tank at night… so you can enjoy time with family and friends. And/or you’ll still have plenty of brain power to devote to that sweet million-dollar side project you have cranking.
Now, hit me up in the comments. What works for you? And what’s ONE strategy you’re going to try out in the next week to help beat decision fatigue? I can’t wait to hear from YOU!