Eliminate The Need For Willpower
So let's say that you have a willpower budget of 10 units when you start the day. Well, every decision you make costs you a unit. So, let's say that you wake up in the morning, you respond to an email, you click on a link, you decide what to wear, you decide what to eat, and you decide who you're going to respond to. You've already started the day, and out of the gate, you're hosed, because you took 10 units and you've already wasted five units on things that are fairly low value and you no longer have much left to spend on what is your most meaningful work. And the result of that is what is known as decision fatigue, which makes it more and more difficult to make decisions, it makes it more and more difficult to make high quality decisions. So there's a really interesting story in Roy Baumeister's book, Willpower, where he wrote the story of the New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Now, Eliot Spitzer built his career campaigning against prostitution. And do you know how his career ended? ...
He got caught with a prostitute. And when you think about that, you think it seems absolutely ridiculous that somebody who built their entire career campaigning against something would have that very thing be the undoing of his career. But Roy Baumeister made a really good point. He said, if you think about it, somebody like Eliot Spitzer or somebody who is in a high political office is literally making hundreds of decisions all day every single day. So by the time you get to the end of the day, the quality of your decision-making actually starts to diminish significantly. Which if you've ever been to the grocery store at the end of the day, you might've experienced this, where you've been at work all day, you've made all these important decisions, and then you fill your grocery cart full of all sorts of junk food and things you never had any intention of buying or never had any intention of eating, you've effectively experienced one of the byproducts of decision fatigue. So how do we actually deal with decision fatigue? Well, the key to dealing with decision fatigue is that you wanna basically eliminate and automate any of the decisions that you would typically make in the first part of your day. And you do that by designing environments and designing schedules, which we're gonna talk about in the next few modules. And really, when it comes down to it, if you wanna change your behavior, you have to actually start by changing your environment and automating many of those decisions, like what to eat, what to wear. What you're going to do in the first part of the morning, really, is a way of designing an environment and eliminating decisions that allow you to preserve willpower so that you now have your willpower for your highest value work, and you're able to preserve your cognitive bandwidth.