Are you too tired to make money?
Hear me out on this…
So I am always trying to eat healthier. I wake up at the crack of dawn, have some tea with lemon, go to the gym, then come home and have a big protein shake with organic veggies. (Organic because I’m bougie) Come lunchtime, I may poke behind the lettuce in the fridge to that kale dip I got from Trader Joes that’s supposed to last me all week. Then I might walk down the street to the corner store and get a bag of chips to go with the dip. Then I’ll probably eat the whole bag of chips and finish the dip. Come dinner time, I’m just like bump this, and I stop by KFC for a 3 piece with a side of mashed potatoes and a biscuit. Welcome to my Tuesday.
Have you experienced something like this before? Does your eating plan fall off as the day goes on? Do you get less productive at work after 3:00 pm? Are you reading emails and saving your response for the next morning when your head is clearer? How do you feel after comparing prices on Amazon all afternoon? Have you felt exhausted after shopping or even just scanning items for your wedding or baby shower registry?
That’s called decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the idea that choices become harder to make as the day goes on. It’s not only our decision quality that declines throughout the day, but our discipline, willpower, and self-control as well!
In a 2009 study a psychologist at Florida State University ran an experiment where he asked students to sit next to a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
He allowed one group of students to eat the cookies, and he asked the second group to avoid eating any of the treats.
Afterwards, both groups were asked to solve difficult puzzles.
The students who resisted eating the cookies found these puzzles more difficult to complete, and they abandoned the task. Their brain was tired from all the energy it took to resist the cookies!
On the other hand, the group students who ate the cookies worked on the puzzles for longer. They were able to focus for longer because they had more mental resources.
So how can this affect your business?
As side hustlers, solopreneurs, and new small business owners, we’re often trying to figure out and implement something new. This takes energy and brainpower. A tired brain affects our ability to be creative and causes our productivity to suffer.
So if you find that all the business projects you planned to complete after coming home from your 9-5 are taking longer than you planned, perhaps your brain is just tired from making decisions all day. It’s difficult to move a train along when there’s no more fuel.
Decision fatigue also has paralyzing effects. As we become more and more fatigued from making decisions, we become less likely to make a decision at all! Our brain just shuts down. We push deadlines, drag out projects, and become less productive. Does this sound familiar?
While we can’t eliminate decision fatigue, we can minimize its effects. That’s why I’m sharing 3 strategies to help fight the effects of decision fatigue on your businesses. Dig in below:
Rework Your Day
I always thought that I should get the simpler tasks out of the way first, before tackling the harder ones. I was so wrong! It’s actually the other way around!
I have a marketing agency where I serve clients all day. I also have this blog which I love! Despite the fact that I enjoy this platform, I find that I struggle to create content because I’m just tired. Who wants to write a long blog post or do a Facebook Live after working with clients, putting out fires, and doing Facebook Ads all day?
So I started to wake up at 4:30am. Before the day starts I do what’s important to me. I write, pray, meditate and work on my more creative work. I write my blog posts and create resources first thing in the morning instead of after the workday. Reworking my day to prioritize this type of creative work before I step into the office at 9am (can I say “office” if my desk is in my bedroom?) has helped me give my best to the projects I love the most.
I’ve started to implement this strategy for my marketing agency as well. Before I even check emails I’ll do the more brain intensive tasks such as writing new email sequences or designing Facebook ads. When I’m done with the creative projects, THEN I’ll start on the simpler work.
So if you have a side hustle, consider waking up early to work instead of waiting until after work. Also, look into rearranging the way you tackle projects. Start with the more creative and brain intensive tasks first, before focusing on the simpler ones.
If you have trouble waking you’ve got to check out my Grind Group Program
Automate Your Life
Structure your life to conserve your energy. The less choices you make during the day, the more energy you’ll have for what’s most important. That’s why we see folk like Mark Zuckerberg or Barack Obama who wear almost the same thing every day to reduce the choices they have to make.
Obama explains during a 2012 interview with Vanity Fair why he only wears 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.”
You can do the same by limiting your time on social media, (yes, all those likes are choices), automating your social media activity, completing specific tasks on certain days, or planning out tasks at the beginning of the week.
You can also create habits that eliminate the mental effort of making a choice. Whether that means creating an exercise schedule, waking up at the same time everyday, or buying the same groceries every week. Whatever you can do to simplify your life, do it. It will provide you with more energy resources for the most important decisions and projects.
Take a Break For Food
You can get a second wind of energy from a nutritious snack. Emphasis on nutritious! A bottle of Diet coke won’t do the trick.
There was a study that looked at the parole decisions of a group of judges. It showed that the parole board was more likely to grant parole at the start of the day — a decision that needs careful thought. As time went on and they got more mentally fatigued, they were more likely to deny parole, which is the default decision. That was until they got back from lunch. After their meal, the likelihood of granting parole jumped back up to morning levels.
Food can can restore your energy resources. So if you’re having trouble focusing or making a decision, grab a snack.
Geeky post right? I know, but I really enjoy using science to help improve work performance, especially if I feel these finding are affecting entrepreneurs of color. I’ve been reading study after study that shows how low self-control correlates with low income as well as with a host of other problems, including poor achievement in school, divorce, crime, alcoholism and poor health. The ability to successfully manage your energy for what’s important could have a positive impact on our entire community!
Did this post interest you? Let me know your experience with decision fatigue in the comments below.