Decision Fatigue and How to Get More Willpower

You probably like choices, most of us do. But they’re doing you harm with each one you make. There is an area of study called Decision Fatigue, the more choices you make, the more decision fatigue you have, and it impares your ability to make good trade-offs. It’s best known for it’s effect on judges making choices about whether prisoners should be let out of jail on parole. The judges in the study were significantly more likely to let someone free (about 65% more likely) directly after a meal, whereas at the end of a decision-making-period, they were almost 0% likely to release anyone.


Steve jobs famously wore the exact same black turtleneck and blue Levi jeans all the time. The exact purpose, to reduce his decision fatigue, and he’s not alone either. Barrack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Albert Einstein in his later life made the choice not to vary what they wear in the morning to avoid decision fatigue. For most of us, this is either impossible (work uniforms etc.) or just it’d be too embarrassing to try. But there are more realistic ways to avoid decision fatigue:

Using checklists

Checklists are a good and realistic way of avoiding decision fatigue. They’re especially good for your morning routine, so that you have more willpower left for the day.

Automate and delegate

Tools like IFTTT or a similar paid service called Zapier can help you to automate the humdrum digital tasks away. There are countless other tools that you can use on your phone, laptop, desktop or whatever that most people don’t know about. Some kinds of tasks are better to be delegated, but employing someone is now unnecessary for a lot of people that there are Virtual Assistants. There are some specialised websites that sell Virtual Assistance services, but if it’s just a once-off thing, you can even pay for a Fiverr gig for only US$5.00, which is really quite a good value.

Plan according to your fatigue

Another good way to avoid decision fatigue is to plan your day around it, and think about how realistic your plans really are. If you work a tough job that at the end of the day leaves you tired, it wouldn’t be a good idea then to plan to go to the gym right afterwards, or to surround yourself with unhealthy food if you’re trying to be healthy. At your weakest state of willpower, you’d be a lot less likely to resist what your mind just wants to do. One method is to plan to do the easy things at times when you don’t have much willpower left, and leave the hard stuff for weekends or whenever you find you have the most willpower left.


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