*These are not mine. They belong to Tim Ferriss.* I've been listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast a lot lately. It's fantastic. In one episode he points out the distinction between time & usable attention. In other words, you have limited decision making capability in whatever time you have available. To prevent decision fatigue, try these tips.
  1. Automate as much decision making as possible.
    Set rules for yourself so you can automate as much decision making as possible. This may mean automatic bill pay, auto-responders on email, or having the same thing for breakfast on weekdays. This frees up what Tim calls "attention units" which are as valuable as time and money, and which are finite on any given day.
  2. Don't provoke deliberation before you can take action.
    Most decisions, he says, don't require months of deliberation. I'm inclined to agree (and wish I had realized this while planning my wedding last year). A practical application: if you receive a stressful work email on Friday but cannot address the issue until Monday, your attention is now on work and will drain you all weekend, effectively canceling out your relaxation time. Check that email on Sunday afternoon instead.
  3. Don't postpone decisions or create open loops just to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
    These are a huge drain! I do this all the time because I will avoid conflict at any cost and am unreasonably fixated on feelings. For example, a friend says "Come to dinner Wednesday" and you know it's never gonna happen. So you say, "Fun! Probably. I'll let you know?" NO. Wrong. Instead, say, "Oh man, I have something on Wednesday, so I'm going to say no, but I'll let you know if that changes." See? Doesn't that feel better?
  4. Learn to make non fatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible.
    Tim defines risk here as the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome. If the risk is low? Just fucking decide. And most of the time the risk (as defined here) is low. You can set time limits (20 minutes and then I just pick one), or limit the number of options (I will consider 3 options and that's it). Simplify, simplify, simplify.
  5. Don't strive for variation when it's not needed. Routine enables innovation where it's most valuable.
    He recommends a book called Daily Rituals. I haven't read it yet. Anyway, don't create more options when it's not necessary. Embrace routine. This only works if you make a distinction between: utility vs. fun OR exercise vs. recreation OR enjoyment vs efficacy. Like, on Tuesday morning just have your regular morning smoothie and move on (utility). But at Saturday dinner consider if you want sushi or Italian & deliberate over the menu & end up trying the braised rabbit agnolotti (fun).
  6. Regret is past tense decision making.
    It is already water under the bridge. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret. Tim recommends a 21 day no complaint experiment. Like, put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you catch yourself complaining. This sounds insane and awesome. I spend a lot of time deliberating over pretty much everything & unnecessary deliberation saps your attention! Save that attention for creative endeavors. Attention deserves the same respect & care you would give any other valuable resource.