Take Control Of Your Life: Easy Tips To Avoid Unproductive And Unhealthy Decisions
Have you ever come home from a stressful day and decided that stuffing your face with junk food is a much better way to destress than going to the gym or having a relaxing epsom salt bath?
If the answer is yes, then you are well aware of the extremely dark cloud of guilt and regret that glooms over you as a consequence of your actions. Such a gross feeling, eh?
So, how do you put a stop to making unproductive or unhealthy decisions?
To close the chapter on unhealthy and unproductive habits, we must understand them...
Put simply, bad decisions (or "lack of willpower") are usually caused by emotions. These emotions easily override your capability to make logical decision when you are at all physically or mentally drained.
This is beautifully illustrated in a recent study where researchers found that the likelihood of parol officers giving favourable rulings (i.e., to release a criminal from jail or ease up on the parol terms) was determined by their level of mental fatigue. It didn't matter what the crime was—murder, rape, theft—a criminal was more likely to get a favourable response if their parole hearing was scheduled in the morning or immediately after a food break, than if it was scheduled near the end of a long session. We can't personally vouch for the criminals in each case, but the study is interesting.
You see, your ability to make decisions is like a muscle—it can get fatigued when you use it too much. Every time you make a decision, its like doing a rep at the gym. Similar to how your muscles get tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make more decisions.
Researchers often refer to this phenomenon as "decision fatigue".
Fortunately, there are simple choices that you can make that will help you master your willpower and start living the productive, healthy life that you have been going for...
Daily Techniques for a productive, healthy life.
1. Always have a healthy snack on hand
Its no coincidence that the parol officers in the aforementioned study became better decision makers after eating. If your brain doesn't have the fuel it needs to process a rational decision, it simply pumps out a decision that will result in the fastest rate of sugar consumption.
This is why packing healthy snacks for the day is key to making awesome decisions. So before leaving your house each morning, ensure that you have a healthy snack stashed in your bag.
2. Plan daily decisions the night before
All those tiny decisions that you make in a day significantly reduce your mental space to make important decisions. This is why we want to automate your day as much as possible. For example, laying out your work clothes, deciding what you are going to have for breakfast and getting your gym bag prepared the night before will result in stress-free mornings and productive decisions throughout the day.
3. Lock down a morning routine
Morning routines are seriously effective for upping your productivity and willpower for the day. There is a plethora of fantastic morning routines posted online by productivity gurus but most look something like this:
1) drink a massive glass of water with lemon
4) review schedule for the day
speaking of schedule...
4. Make a daily schedule and stick to it
Instead of hoping that you will have enough willpower to get sh*t done, go to the gym or prepare a healthy meal, simply schedule the important tasks into your day. No thinking, no decisions to make, just follow the schedule that is laid out for you. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.
Take ten minutes each night and make a schedule that includes at least three tasks that MUST be done that day. Try to schedule the most mentally demanding tasks for first thing in the A.M. (after your morning ritual, of course) since this is when your are most focused and creative.
5. Make rules for re-occurring terrible decisions
If there is a particular situation that you don't handle well, simply make a new rule of how to handle it for the future. For example, if you consistently binge eat when you get home late, make a rule that you must prepare a healthy dinner before leaving work in the morning so you are well prepared for when you arrive home with the cravings.
Making smart decisions is all about being prepared. Simply adding some proactive strategies that reduce in-the-moment decision making will only lead to consistent progress on the things that are important to you.