Creating Routines for Decision Making Energy

This old interview with President Obama made some hay when he was talking about paring down his decision making:

You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price.

I like to have a set routine. Since I’ve moved in with my fiancé (now wife) and her two kids and adding my kid to the mix, my routines are all sorts of wacky. I used to be more set in my ways, but with everyone else in the house, I end up going with the flow of “what needs to be done, what can I answer, who needs what now?”

My wife has it way worse.

I like picking out my clothes for the next day, so I’m not rushed to do it in the morning. If I was being even more forward thinking, I’d make my breakfast eggs the night before too.

Decision fatigue is a real thing. My wife experiences it every day. She makes hundreds, maybe thousands of decisions every day. She’s very good at it. However, she is utterly exhausted by the end of the day (and oftentimes before the end of the day).

I can’t control the external factors at all. I can attempt to control many decisions I do make personally. We want to schedule things, be accountable and make good decisions, but life gets in the way all the time.

One of my goals and processes is to set a routine of what I do in the morning, at lunch, in the evening and before bed. I’m not quite there yet, but I already do many things right. If I could pare down many of the “day-to-day” decisions I make, I’d probably be more productive.