The worlds greatest business leaders and minds understand how to reduce anxiety by managing cognitive load and decision fatigue. Have you ever noticed that Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and many others of the same genre seem to be wearing the same clothes everyday ? And Tim Ferris will eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch nearly everyday of the week! The world's most famous marketing mind, Seth Godin, says 'no' to just about everything that comes his way and yet is wildly successful and sort after. If you scratch the surface a bit more you'll find they've automated or outsourced many everyday tasks and decisions. That's because they know we have a finite capacity for decision making and cognitive load. The more you take on yourself by loading up on commitments and the more you draw on your decision bank over simple everyday tasks, the less power we have to focus on the important choices that actually have positive impacts.
How can you better structure your life to ease decision fatigue and cognitive load? Here's some suggestions:
#1 - Say NO!
The self development industry along with piles of inspirational memes and YouTube clips have us thinking to be a success we need to say 'yes' to every opportunity that comes our way. That's the complete opposite to what you should be doing. Just try to say no and feel the peace of mind that follows. There will be more opportunities, better ones and you will be in a better place to tackle a great opportunity as you have the mental space to give it your best shot. This alone will significantly decrease anxiety.
#2 - Automate!
Automate your finances, sort out your budget by using this simple spreadsheet. Use it to figure out how much you need to pay off your credit card per month to clear it. Enter all your fixed expenses, your spending money and know your exact financial position. Once you have itemised and figured out your budget, automate it! Set up automatic bill payment, pay your allowance into a separate account, spend from that. Put a few dollars into savings if you can, if not, that's fine for now. Knowledge is power! By making a plan and automating your finances you will remove a significant amount of cognitive load.
#3 - Same-ify!
This may seem crazy although just trust me on this one. Go to the store and buy bunch of the same socks and jox. Remove that basic decision every morning of what underwear you're wearing each day, it's a decision that doesn't need making, remove it! Taking a similar approach to clothing also helps. Unlike Steve Jobs, I don't want to wear the same black clothes everyday so I developed my own approach. I spent good money on a bunch of top quality pants and business shirts that really don't differ too much in style. Every shirt matches the pants so combinations don't matter. As I invested in top quality clothing each item fits perfectly and I love them all equally. So no decisions about clothing in the morning. This too will take a load off your mind.
#4 - Sustenance!
I can't stress the importance of this next point enough. Breakfast and lunch should not be a decision made daily. Do your research on what a nutritious breakfast is, choose it and eat it every day. Do the same for lunch, research it, prepare it in advance and eat it everyday for at least a month before changing up. Don't get up in the morning and wonder what is for breakfast. Don't sit at work all morning wondering what healthy options are nearby for lunch, it doesn't work. Take that load off your mind. Research it, prepare it, eat it everyday.
There you have it. Beat decision fatigue and cognitive load and decrease your anxiety levels. To cap off; #1 say no, there are better opportunities on the way; #2 automate, get that money sorted; #3 Same-ify, all the same jox; #4 sustenance, research it, prepare it, repeat it.