A quick note on decision fatigue

This entry will have to be short, but hopefully useful. It’s a sort of a hybrid between the weekly vet school summaries and the study techniques section.

I think this is fibro-cartilage from a horse's ear.

I think this is fibro-cartilage from a horse's ear.

If I’m going to try to recap the week in two words, it would be microscopy courses. Three of them to be exact. This week has been mostly histology focused, and we’ve moved on from epithelium tissues to connective tissues. (We’ve also had an “aqua-day”, but I’m saving that for another entry.) Usually how these lessons work is that we have an introductory lecture on the kinds of tissues we’ll be dealing with in microscopy class, and afterwards we meet up in the lab to look at different kinds of, in this week’s case, connective tissues, like blood, bones and cartilage.

I have snapped a ton of other pictures through the microscope, but I'd like to move on from histology to something I’ve been wanting to write about, namely decision fatigue.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. After having to make a bunch of tiny decisions throughout the day, like what you are you going to have for breakfast, what are you going to wear, should you bring your notebook to class, what should you pack for lunch, your brain tires out. Just going through some of the decisions we all have to make each morning, I’ve already reached four instances where you have to make a decision, and you haven’t even made your way out of the front door! Just imagine how many decisions you have to make every day, most of them you don’t even notice.

Moreover, it doesn’t just tire your brain, it also depletes your willpower. So even though you vowed to sit down and do "X" amount of homework after school, or go for a 5 mile jog, or do your laundry, your brain will just crave that instant gratification of scrolling through Instagram for half an hour.

This is why every Sunday, I always plan out the following week, sometimes almost to the hour. By not giving myself another option, I stay motivated to finish the tasks I’ve set out to get done through the course of the day. Of course this is not a fool proof plan, and because of unforeseen events like things taking longer than expected, sudden changes of plans or in lectures, you have to remain somewhat flexible. However, making that initial plan can prove to be a good course corrector if your schedule goes awry during the week.

In my experience, and in scientifically proven experiments with pilots and judges, it’s not how hard the decision is, but how many decisions you will have to make throughout the day. Therefore, by removing some of the decisions you’ll have to make throughout the week, perhaps you can regain some of that momentum and willpower, and actually get more stuff done.

A perfect, and perhaps a little extreme example of someone avoiding decision fatigue is seen here in how Steve Jobs created a "uniform" look for himself. I'm not advocating this particular version of decision fatigue avoidance, but whatever floats your boat I guess.

A perfect, and perhaps a little extreme example of someone avoiding decision fatigue is seen here in how Steve Jobs created a "uniform" look for himself. I'm not advocating this particular version of decision fatigue avoidance, but whatever floats your boat I guess.