Quality Decisions are a Limited Resource

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Every week readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

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Happy Sunday! This weeks newsletter is about decision fatigue.

Decision Fatigue

If you've ever procrastinated, made irrational tradeoffs, or felt impulsive after a long day, you've most likely felt the effects of decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is the deteriorated ability to make quality decisionsafter a long period of decision making.

Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister explains it as such: "Our ability to force ourselves to do difficult things — that is, applying self-control or self-discipline — draws upon a certain limited resource within us. And when we’re forced to make tough decisions, it calls upon that same resource. So when our self-control runs low, we start to make poor choices."

Our decision quality negatively correlates with our decision quantity.

For example, this study looked at 1,112 parole hearings made by judges in Israel and found that the largest influence on whether or not an individual was granted parole was not their crime or background - it was the last time the judge took a break.

In the study, judges took 2 food breaks - splitting their day into three “decision sessions”.

The study found that the percentage of favourable rulings gradually dropped from around 65% to 0% within each decision session and then returns back up to around 65% after a break.

Simply put: judges were much easier on individuals right after a break compared to later in the day.

The study showed that even professional decision makers are victims of mental fatigue.

To prevent long days and prolific decision-making from impairing your ability to make quality choices, Anne-Laure Le Cunff from Ness Labs suggests “mindfully directing your mental energy towards choices that matter, and minimizing low-stakes energy-consuming decisions.”

In addition to that, a previous newsletter titled “Focus More With Shark Habits and Pirate Maps” is the perfect read for overcoming decision fatigue. It explains two simple techniques that I’ve been using every day for the past 3 years to eliminate noise in my day and focus on what’s truly important.

This Weeks Quote

Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you. - John C. Maxwell

This quote is simple to understand, however it still remains very powerful.

In every moment of our lives we are the sum of our decisions.

As a result, having the ability to make high quality choices is necessary for a high quality life.

Question to ask yourself

Are there items in your life that cause unnecessary mental exhaustion?