Thursday, August 21, 2014

Decisions, decisions!

By Mary Jane Maffini aka Victoria Abbott

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and I've learned that eventually that brain starts looking for shortcuts. Just make any decision, it says. Who cares at this point?  Of course, it says that whether it’s an important decision or not. 

When you're really tired of deciding, your brain will suggest that you don’t make any decisions:  It’s too hard. Go watch television.

Apparently, the brain works just as hard on a little decision, say, for instance to check out Grumpy Cat or not as it does on a big one: say, what to do about saving for retirement.

As we have so many decisions to make every day,  it just gets worse!

Hmmm. Which dog to pet first? 

I hear that we also pay a price after making good decisions: the kind we call ‘willpower', say avoiding negative things and doing positive ones. 

This price is called decision fatigue. I am really glad to hear about it.

So this explains why at the end of a grocery shopping trip, deciding on many prices, carb counts, and so much more, I hit the cash register where the magazines have been strategically placed to whisper sweet nothings in my ear, and one of those magazine is going to hop into my basket, because I have decision fatigue. At last there’s a name for my disorder and I can try to fight it.
All kidding aside, if I understand this theory, there are so many decisions to be made every day, that any way you can minimize the number of decisions, the better your decisions will be and the longer you’ll keep making decisions, instead of putting them off.

Small suitcase? Or big suitcase? Both????  

This is good and bad at the same time.  It’s good because I’m packing for a road trip this week. Packing is my worst thing.  I’d rather have a medical procedure. I always start days ahead, worried about not having some essential item.  I travel a fair amount for book conferences, events and promotion. It seems important to always have clean clothes and the right ones, the right promotional materials, notes, and of course, half a drugstore.

Despite having planned for days, the night before take-off around eleven o’clock, I am stuffing extra things into the luggage “in case” it snows or there’s a heat wave or a monsoon.  Other items will be sitting on top because, well, I’m too tired to decide. 
Or hat and scarf?

All this time, I just thought I was nuts, but now I realize, it was just decision fatigue. Makes me feel kind of heroic.

But I have drawn a conclusion: when I have to pack from now on, I’ll do it in the morning, before I’ve made dozens of writing decisions or made is as far as the cash in the grocery store. I bet my suitcase won’t be so stuffed with stuff I couldn’t make a decision about. 

What about you? Are there decisions that tire you out or do you love making all of them? What about time of day – better in the morning? You can tell us. We’re all friends here. That’s one thing I’ve decided.
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