Article

More Energy Writing, Less Energy Deciding

Written by: Michael Kim
Published: Mar 23, 2016
 

How you decide what to wear may affect your writing.

More specifically, if you spend too much time deciding at all, you could be killing your capacity to make solid decisions for things that matter later on.

People often make poor decisions while mentally fatigued. A cause of the fatigue? They've aready made too many decisions that day.

This is why marketers know your decision-making process suffers when you are exhausted, such as at the end of a day. It’s why anyone who has bought a car from a dealership knows that the salesperson loves to go back and forth between you and “upper management” when negotiating terms of the price. In that scenario, the hope is that you’ll eventually crack from impatience or fatigue and will surrender to buying unnecessary add-on packages when you really only wanted a car without all the bells and whistles. But how cool do tires filled with nitrogen sound for only a few bucks more!

This is called decision fatigue.

If you consistently spend 5 minutes deliberating on what to eat for breakfast, only to realize you are then late for work, you may already know that indecision has been a thorn in your side.

When your decisions on admittedly trivial things leave you lost.


But if you think about the amount of time lost while stuck in paralysis analysis that could be used toward more productive outlets such as your writing, then perhaps it’s time to strip down your choices to leave your decision-making reserves for more important things.

In Tim Ferris’ four-hour work week blog, he writes:

1) Considering options costs attention that then can’t be spent on action or present-state awareness.

2) Attention is necessary for not only productivity but appreciation.

Therefore:

Too many choices = less or no productivity
Too many choices = less or no appreciation
Too many choices = sense of overwhelm


Steve Jobs famously reduced his wardrobe to one outfit so he wouldn't have to waste mental energy on what to wear.

Is reducing choice really the solution to more productivity?

In this interesting post on too many choices, Tara Bouley writes: Did you know, the average person checks their phone 150 times a day? And if you also have a job that requires you to make a lot of important decisions, you may find yourself at the end of the day reordering a favorite dish from Seamless and binge watching Netflix. It’s not because you’re a loser or lazy, it’s because your brain doesn’t have any deciding juice left to think critically.

In my office, we had been spending too much time deliberating on lunch options (ok, a few people in particular were guilty of this). The indecisiveness was unproductive and mentally draining for such a simple task of choosing lunch. I couldn’t believe a choice of what to eat was as burdensome as the meaning to life.

Mind you, we don’t work around restaurant row, but we do have choices down the street.

So, in the spirit of freeing us from indecision, I decided to create a lunch wheel. On the wheel are several local dining options.

We set a rule: if you spin the lunch wheel, it is king. You cannot complain about where the lunch wheel points to. The lunch wheel doesn’t care if you like Thai food or not. You will eat Thai food because we find peace in trusting the lunch wheel and its unbiased governance.

Ok, this then creates a problem: what if the choices on the wheel are uninspiring? And how do we then decide what Thai dish to order? So many Thai options! Create another wheel?

Perhaps the more definitive question is: what do you really want? Is spending more time on which jeans to wear, which salad dressing goes well with spinach and beets, or which Netflix show to watch, more valuable than spending time on your more significant matters, such as your writing? Are you exhausted by the time you sit down to write?

In addition to "what do you want?" the question to ask is, what choices can I eliminate?

Answering this may be less about eliminating and more about gains.



Michael Kim
Questions? Comments? Write me at InkTipStoryPower (at) gmail dot com
https://pro-labs.imdb.com/name/nm3207158/

Michael Kim has worked in every department at InkTip. He is now the VP of Product Development & Media. He enjoys making decisions and hoping to not regret them later.