How to Leverage Goal Planning to Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Aug 16, 2019
Have you ever had one of those days where you know you have dozens of important things to do, but you can’t figure out what to work on next?
If so, you’re not alone. This is a common challenge with an understandable explanation.
Often times, when we’re in the thick of a day that’s underway, or dealing with a multi-faceted project, or working on multiple projects at once, as examples, our cognitive resources become depleted. After kicking off our day with dozens of varying decisions, we experience a phenomenon known as “decision fatigue”, where our ability to make quality decisions becomes increasingly more difficult as the day wears on.
Key word: “quality”.
This is why we’re more likely to make poor dietary decisions after a long day as opposed to earlier in the morning. But luckily, there are some simple strategies you can employ to help overcome this.
Firstly... don’t “waste” decisions at inopportune times.
There are some decisions that can be made in advance, thus preserving your cognitive resources to be used when you need them most. This includes things like meal prepping or planning during the weekends so you don’t have to make meal decisions at the last minute, or laying out your clothes the night before so you don’t have to waste a decision on fashion choices in the morning.
In fact, this is why Steve Jobs always wore the same black shirt and jeans. By having dozens of plain black shirts on hanger after hanger, he never had to "waste a decision” on what to wear. In doing so, he preserved his valuable cognitive resources for more important and meaningful decisions later in the day.
Secondly… there is power in distance.
When we’re already in the thick of something, it’s more difficult to see the forest for the trees. But with distance comes more clarity.
It’s like looking at a Seurat or a Van Gogh painting. Up close, it’s a bunch of dots that are difficult to make sense of - your brain doesn’t even know what to focus on or which aspect to process first. But when you back up and give yourself space, you can now see the bigger picture - you gain the clarity distance provides.
And the same is true when we’re up close and personal with our own stuff - or in the thick of what we’ve got going on. It’s just a bunch of dots that are hard to connect. But when you give yourself distance from the situation, you can make much better decisions.
So how can you avoid being in that situation where you don’t know what to work on next?
... by simply always planning your days and weeks in advance, and making sure that your plans are in alignment with the goals and vision you hold for yourself.
Sitting down at the end of every week and crafting a solid plan for the upcoming week allows you to see your priorities with a clear, logical, distanced mind.
By dedicating weekly, distraction-free planning time where you work on nothing other than planning out the best week possible - one that’s intentionally in line with the goals you’re working to achieve - you set yourself up for success.
Now obviously things won’t always go according to plan, but if you also end each day by reviewing your progress and making any necessary adjustments for the next day, you’ll be astounded by how much more productive and focused you are.
And by making these important planning decisions in advance, you’ll preserve your daily cognitive resources to use when and where they’re most needed.
But don’t take my word for it, test the proven-process for yourself. Spend just one month implementing these principles and discover the many benefits and rewards they bring. But fair warning - this success habit is addictive. :)
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