Following last week’s post on dealing with crises and problems, synchronicity brought a fascinating article my way. The title is Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue? It’s by John Tierney, a science columnist for the New York Times. Tierney deftly describes social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister’s work on a phenomenon called ego depletion. Here’s his summary:
“Good decision making is not a trait of the person, in the sense that it’s always there,” Baumeister says. “It’s a state that fluctuates.” His studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to-back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions. “Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,” Baumeister points out. That’s why the truly wise don’t restructure the company at 4 p.m. They don’t make major commitments during the cocktail hour. And if a decision must be made late in the day, they know not to do it on an empty stomach. “The best decision makers,” Baumeister says, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.”
Food for Thought ~
Baumeister’s research and insights have profound and wide application – from improving our odds of making good decisions as leaders to understanding buyer behaviors and major social issues.
Question of the day ~
What strategies do you use (or need) to conserve your energies in order to be at your best when necessary?
The information in this article is so important that I created an excerpted version, which is available here.