Be a decision ninja in 2021 and give decisions a kick in the butt.
Throw down to every choice you have in your world… dare them to prove to you that they deserve your precious time and brain resources.
DARE EVERY CHOICE TO MAKE YOUR DAY.
Decision fatigue is a real thing. I’ve spoken of it before, many a time.
It’s what happens when you start making lame-o decisions because you’re worn out from making other ones.
You know that hand sanitizer, candy, and gum “impulse purchase” stand right at the checkout? DESIGNED to take advantage of decision fatigue.
It’s why you shouldn’t shop hungry, or make big purchases in the afternoon.
Social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister is the most prolific researcher on decision fatigue and ego depletion.
His studies found that there is a finite resource of mental energy, and therefore, once it is used up, usually by the afternoon, we are goners when it comes to exerting self-control. This reminds me of how certain laryngologists say we only have a certain number of vocal fold oscillations a day. #nerdalert
Here’s how his research applies to us:
We are SUPER nice and generous and kind to our first student or client of the day. We dread with a heat of a thousand suns our last student. Even if they are our very favoritist.
It’s why a nine-hour teaching day is foolish. We literally cannot make any good choices for that ninth hour. It is also why I seem to consume ALL THE FOODS AND BEVERAGES after a long day.
Baumeister’s early research didn’t really tell us about “either-or” choices, like should my teen girl student sing “Apres un Reve” or “Le secret”. It wasn’t until Jean Twenge, a post-doc researcher in his lab, posed the question that the research started to include this. At first, the “either-or” decisions looked harmless.
Spoiler Alert: they aren’t. They steal the same mental energy as the self-control decisions.
FREE COOL INFO: Baumeister and Twenge even went on to look at glucose levels in folks… and guess what? The lower the glucose levels in the body, the higher the decision fatigue … another reason why that nine-hour teaching day with no breaks is not so wise. You need to eat to make better decisions.
Here are just a few decisions we make in a single voice session:
- determining where the student is vocally that day
- picking the proper exercises
- choosing what rep/script/project to work
- when to have the student lead the lesson
- what to comment on, what to hold back
- if we play piano, where we put our fingers
- our own vocal coordination (if we model or on hour six of Zoom)
- brainstorming solutions to vocal issues
- diagnosing tech issues
- do I bring up that they still owe me money? (threw this one in to be sure you were still paying attention)
Now consider that we have 3-5 lessons a day, sometimes more.
Now consider the time of day we teach these lessons.
Now consider how we prepare for these lessons (overarching big tasks like reading or research, and smaller tasks like invoicing or scanning a piece of music)
Now consider all the things you were doing and attending to before you started teaching, that had nothing to do with teaching.
Do you ever feel like there is no way on God’s green Earth that you could get all your ducks in a row, let alone get a new offering or service up and running? Yeah, me too.
Decision fatigue and I have been having staring contests for a long time.
Sure, I’ve combatted it by limiting myself to 4 appointments a day, tops. I don’t head to the grocery or Target without a list WRITTEN DOWN, and I have a schedule for laundry. SO MUCH LAUNDRY.
What I didn’t realize until about a couple years ago that it was the MICRO decisions that were sucking my life dry. Man oh man, the devil sure is in the details.
Details that can look like this:
- What should I wear? This breaks down to 1000 other decisions:
- What shall I eat for breakfast? Lunch? And the WORST: DINNER?! oh, and snacks.
- What mug shall I put my coffee in?
- Have I brushed my teeth long enough?
- Shall I Makeup my face, or no? Maybe I can get away with just mascara and lips?
- When to end my shower… wait… do I even TAKE a shower?
- Shall I sit at the kitchen table, the island, or in my office?
- Can I wait one more day to get gas in the car?
- What wine shall I drink? Can I start now? When can I start?
- Hot cocoa or chocolate bar?
My hope is these decisions look familiar. They are all decisions we take for granted because we are SO used to making them, they do not outwardly feel “tiring” ~ they feel like par for the course.
And yet, these micro decisions take up precious resources that could be used to give a higher ROI (return on investment) to our life.
I’m tried something super scary, and it worked, so I’d like you to try it for 2021: I’m gave up the need to make micro-decisions by making some macro-decisions instead. It helps that I am telling myself I’m just like Barak Obama and Mark Zuckerburg. Well, maybe not Mark Zuckerburg. #famous
I have a dinner meal plan that is now the same for every day of the week. The hubby/kids get the same food every day for lunch. I have used Sunday afternoons to put together seven outfits in a row, for the upcoming week. I have chosen the SAME MUG every morning. I set a timer for teeth brushing, I have taken no showers. I will probably have to revisit that last point.
What this has done for me is CRAZY. It’s brought up ALLLLL sorts of self-narratives about feeding my family, and being boring. It’s challenged me to ask why I find so much value in things that others do not really care about, like if I wear the same thing every day, or to every speaking event I do.
It’s made me wonder if I am a good mom, teacher, or SECO creator. It’s made me wonder if I will lose my identity.
It’s made me realize I was not taking risks, and that not taking risks on unimportant things
was limiting my ability to take risks on really important things.
Are you overwhelmed and tired? Probably making too many decisions about things that don’t deserve your attention. And this is where I bring it full circle and ask you to be a decision ninja.
Try this over the next month, as you begin 2021:
- Wear the same thing every day, or set out your clothes for a week at a time
- Wear the same shoes (SOCKS? PJ BOTTOMS?) every day
- Use the same mug, cup, water bottle, etc.
- Eat the same thing for lunch every day
- Make a meal plan and rotate the exact meals for a few weeks
- Put down any and all continuing ed that isn’t directly related to your studio and personal goals
- Plan out all chores, from laundry to toilet scrubbing to dishes. Heck! Use PAPER dishes!
- Spend less time making decisions about things that don’t matter very much, and more time making decisions on the things that empower you to be your best you.
Every decision you can delegate, do so.
Every choice that feels like it’s tiny, ditch it.
Let’s see what happens if we set ourselves up for using our decision power on things that deserve our power.
Multiply Your Talents,
P.S. Stay tuned for a FB live where I talk about taking little risks in order to prep yourself for taking big risks, a la Tim Ferris. He kind of annoys me, but I find value in his perspective on this!
I’ll be going live at 9am PST Monday January 4, 2021. Join me, here. and let’s take some risks! This will be a time to state your fears, make some choices, and find accountability in stretching your comfort zone.