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Decision fatigue and money

When we wake up refreshed and ready for a new day, our minds are also refreshed to make a whole new days worth of choices and decisions. However, just as we get tired through the day, we also start making worst decisions. Though these two affects seem connected, they are different. Here are some ways to manage our limited decision making reservoirs.

Establish habits and routines which you do every day almost mindlessly. When we rely on this automatic system, less decisions need to be made. The Power of Habits explains how some routines such as your wake-up, shower, breakfast, get dressed, drive to work, etc. can be as long as 1-2 hours. The key is to establish routines that don’t involve repeated costly purchases like coffees and bagels while on the way to work.

Eliminate simple decisions. Even simple tasks like choosing what outfit to wear drains your will power. You can lay out an outfit the night before or have a complete wardrobe of the same outfit. Following simple rules such as shop for groceries only after having eaten can also set you up to make better decisions later.

Replenish will power by eating. Studies show that court judges make more convictions when they are hungry than after lunchtime when they’ve rested and eaten some food, which means they aren’t applying the same thoughtful processes when they’re hungry. If you have a difficult money decision, or if you’re hungry, don’t go to the grocery store or make a major purchase because you’ll likely spend more than you intended.

By managing our limited daily capacity to make decisions, we can make better decisions when it really matters.

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