Every decision you make costs you energy and willpower. Decisions, like possessions, can be focused and limited to that which gives us the most pleasure.
Think about Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Both famously reduced their wardrobe to only a few options, giving them more energy to focus on changing the world in their own ways.
This isn’t just theory either. Radio Lab recently profiled a scientific study on this topic. Participants were asked to memorize numbers. Some were asked to memorize 3 numbers, and some were asked to memorize 7. After being quizzed on their memorization skill and claiming the study was complete, participants were offered a tasty treat — either fruit or chocolate cake.
Those tasked with memorizing 7 numbers choose the chocolate cake in a statistically higher number.
So, why? The theory is that memorizing these is eating into their glucose reserves, causing the 7-item participants to crave additional sugar.
Make Fewer Decisions
Although different — memorization vs decision making — both have one thing in common: that reducing the decisions you make can save you energy for later.
Decision minimalism takes this a step further and asks the question “how can I reduce making this decision again?”. What if whenever you made a decision in your life, you asked that question — what would change?
Many successful people have made a living around selling products that reduce the number of decisions users of their products make. Here’s just a few:
- CrossFit, workout plans and workout apps
- Foreign language courses
- Todo lists, reminder, and calendars (I prefer Todoist)
- Pandora, Spotify, Radio, and music serves
- Blue Apron and other food delivery services
- Slim Fast and other meal replacements
- Have fewer items on your computer desktop
Teachers are the best example of this. Rather than giving a subject and learning it on your own, a teacher is a guide that helps you focus on the most important parts. Rather than needing to spend energy on planning, you spend energy on learning.
Stop spending energy planning, and let someone else do it.
Look for Decisions
One that I pay for, and love, is CrossFit, which reduces my need to plan what I’ll do to exercise. I just need to show up and put in the effort. By reducing my need to plan what would be in my workout, I have more time to enjoy it, and the rest of my day.
You don’t need an outside party to solve your decisions either. By recognizing that you’re making a decision, you can make your own plan of attack to reduce the need to spend time making it again.
What decisions are you making that could be reduced?