What Is Decision Fatigue?
I first heard about decision fatigue in a Vanity Fair article on President Obama. In it, Obama talks about removing the mundane, everyday decisions that absorb most people for large parts of their day. Obama says, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” Dr. Tricia Cardner, in her book Peak Poker Performance, agrees with this idea. She says, “Find ways to put as much of your life on autopilot as you can so you can focus on what’s really important to you.”
This has obvious implications to poker. Being in a state of mind to make the best possible decisions would be endlessly helpful at the table. But this is important in all areas of life. Who knows how much of an impact decisions fatigue has had on previous decisions I’ve made? Would I have negotiated a better price for my car if I had been aware of this concept then? Would I have chosen a different college, handled family issues differently, picked PC over Mac? Would I have married my first wife? Who knows? But now I’m aware of it and hope to put myself in a position to make optimal decisions as often as possible. And that comes down to eliminating those mundane, unimportant decisions I make throughout the day.
Changing The Way I Think About Clothes
I’m starting with two areas that can be streamlined to eliminate a considerable number of decisions in my day-to-day life… decisions that I often find either frustrating or simply a waste of time. The first is my wardrobe. Unlike Obama, (or Einstein or Steve Jobs or Louis CK) I am not currently wearing the same thing everyday. I actually tried this out about eight years ago, wearing a black shirt and blue jeans with black tennis shoes everyday, and found it to be pretty fucking awesome.
I loved never having to think about what to wear, but even more important, I found that I had almost no desire to go clothes shopping or make any kind of impulse buy. The only time I bought clothes was to replace worn out items. So it also saved me a ton of money. I miss those days. But after my divorce, I was in need of some changes and that was one I decided on. I think it’s time to revisit this and settle on some version of wearing a personal uniform everyday.
Eating In A New Way
The second area I’m going to focus on streamlining is my diet. Like most people, I eat a wide variety of foods, something different every meal and virtually never have the same thing two days in a row. This leads to countless decisions. What restaurant to eat at? Should I go to the store? What do I get at the store? What am I going to cook? Do I even want to cook? How involved do I want the cooking to be? Endless. I’ve talked to my mental game coach and she had some good ideas for streamlining my eating while also eating healthier. Her main idea was preparing freezer meals. Make a big batch of something healthy, divide it up, freeze, then heat and serve as needed. I gave this a try by making a big batch of brown rice with vegetables. I packaged that up and when it was dinner time, all I had to do was cook a protein to add to the rice bowl. This worked pretty well. I loved always having something easy and healthy for dinner that I didn’t have to put any thought into. Making a giant batch of food was kind of a pain in the ass but it was only once a week and saved me a bunch of time cooking each night. But now I’m looking for something different to make in bulk. The main reason is that I’ve started following a low-carb paleo-style diet, so rice is out. I’m going to post about this as it develops but I think I’m looking for something I can prepare in the crockpot and divvy up into single portions to have throughout the week. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments below. Once I’ve got dinner down I’m going to move on to breakfast and lunch as well, so all ideas are welcome.
What I found interesting about the rice bowls was that I didn’t need as much variety as I thought I would. Eating the same thing every meal was just fine. In fact, I preferred it. The occasional dinner out with my wife or friends, or treating myself to lunch was more than enough variety.
I’ll be exploring these ideas in depth over the next few weeks. In my next post I’ll talk about ways I’m streamlining my wardrobe as well as how I am in the process of converting to a minimalist lifestyle. Becoming a minimalist is a big project that will take several months. It’s going to be a massive change for me, but I’m super excited about it and looking forward to purging a lot of crap and keeping only those things I truly value. I’m hoping that all these changes add up to positioning myself mentally to fully concentrate on my poker study and play. This may seem extreme, getting rid of most of my clothes or eating the same thing every meal, but I believe the benefits will be pretty damn life-changing and I’m excited about diving in. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.