Reduce your problems, make fewer decisions.
Consider this … Are you arriving at work tired in the morning because you tried to a little bit too much after work yesterday (perhaps gym + coffee with a friend + an assignment). Your manager knows what tired looks like and I can guarantee that they will clock it (even if you are doing your darndest to hide it).
Our goal in this article is to hack the ‘busy’ out of our personal life to leave extra energy, both physical and mental to perform well at work.
The reality is – trying to remove the ‘busyness’ is counterproductive.
We live in a fast paced, noisy, expensive, draining world and things are only going to get worse. Unless you plan to make serious adjustments to your lifestyle, the solution is to alter our ‘busy’ to simply be more effective. Do what you do now, only better.
Irrespective of where you are in life, there are always going to be ways to improve your performance and fit more in. Just google the word ‘biohacking’ and you will come up with tonnes of ways to be faster, smarter, stronger. Read more about the basics of biohacking >>
And whilst biohacking is slightly out of our scope, decision-making pervades all elements of our lives, both personal and professional. So let’s start there – let’s save time by making better or less decisions!
The first step is to understand that decision making saps away our mental energy. Not only that, but our ability to make decisions is limited and affected by our willpower.
If you spent all day avoiding the box of doughnuts in the kitchen, then you are likely going to struggle making the right decisions in the afternoon. Essentially our decision-making abilities are not only limited but they leave us exhausted and cognitively drained. This means that we are more likely to make the wrong decisions and live in a sea of regret!
Mental exhaustion impacts all our other activities and tasks. If we are tired, we are not only unable to take decisions quickly but we will likely take longer to do other things. We all have days where simple tasks seem to take twice as long to carry out – often a sign of mental fatigue.
So what’s the solution? We remove unimportant decisions from our day to day routines.
Did you really need to spend an hour debating whether to have a sandwich or salad for lunch? What about what to wear in the morning or which task to complete first? At times, the 101 decisions taken in the morning, are enough to knock us over and that’s before your day even gets going.
Obama 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.’
By removing the unimportant decisions in our day, we are leaving more cognitive power for the critical decisions, reducing our mental fatigue and effectively running through our task lists quicker.
So how do we remove the menial decisions? We get organised, and if we’re lucky – we also get to save some money in the process!
One // Streamline your wardrobe – whilst the same outfit worked for Steve Jobs, it doesn’t for me. However most of my clothes tend to match and are generally black. This makes it easy for me to pick an outfit plus if I have an early start or a big meeting, I will pick my clothes the day before to reduce the thinking in the morning.
Two // Put your dinners on a four-week rotation i.e. pick 4-5 meals which you are happy eating once a week, for four weeks in a row. It’s even better if they can be cooked all at one go and frozen! It will not only be cheaper to buy but will mean that you have meals ready to go – also saving you time. + If you pack your own lunch, sort out what goes in it the night before or better still eat the same thing for the week.
Three // Organise your week before Sunday. Group tasks and/or errands and reduce the ‘what’s next’ confusion. If you can put your tasks in order of what needs to be done first, you will reduce your decision making even further.
Four // Buy things in bulk so that you don’t need to keep thinking of what’s missing from your pantry, bathroom or office.
Five // Set up an exercise schedule but don’t hassle if you miss anything. There is always tomorrow. Sometimes trying to fit in an extra class or run is more stressful than just accepting that there will be days when life will get in the way.
Six // Use laziness to build positive habits! Want to read more? Keep your book (or ipad) on the couch or next to the TV remote. Want to run more? Have a list of routes set before you head out. Want to drink more water? Leave full bottles in the spots you are likely to perch in.
Seven // Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes the negative chatter around things we didn’t do, saps our energy to do other things. Evaluate whether getting annoyed about eating the doughnut is worth more brain power then going for that yoga class!