Psychology: 5 decision rules that will make your life easier

5 decision rules that will make your life easier

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Decisions are sometimes tricky and sometimes cost a lot of mental energy. You can read here which rules generally help in decision-making and can relieve us.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we make numerous decisions every day. Do I get up right away or do I turn around again? Do I wear my hair down or do I tie it up? Do I eat pasta or salad for lunch? Do I reply to this email now or later? Am i happy in my relationship or not?

Even if we make some or even most of these decisions almost incidentally and routinely, they cost us mental energy in total, which means that our ability and motivation to make decisions decrease over the course of the day – if we are under a lot of stress and have little regeneration time, they can even decrease in the long term. The psychologist Alice Boyes speaks in this context of Decision fatigue (decision fatigue), which, according to her, often leads to us postponing big and actually important decisions because we don’t have the strength to do so. By the way: According to the neurologist, multitasking also reduces our ability to make decisions, as it costs a lot of mental energy.

In order to make everyday decisions as energy-efficient as possible and to retain more capacity for the relevant challenges in life, Alice Boys suggests the following five principles.

5 decision-making rules that can make your life easier

1. The “Decisions That Don’t Matter” Rule

With many decisions in our everyday life, we have the choice between different, but equivalent options or it does not have any great effects if we do not choose the optimal variant: Pizza or burger, skirt or jeans, red or white, with or without an umbrella. It practically doesn’t matter how we decide. First of all, we have to learn to recognize these cases, which we can try, for example, by writing down all our unimportant decisions for about a week. This helps to develop a feeling for them and to perceive them intuitively over time. Once we have reached the point where we can identify unimportant decisions, Alice Boys recommends reducing the amount of mental energy required to do so – for example, we could flip a coin to choose an option instead of thinking about it ourselves.

2. The “always buy” rule

Do we still need yogurt? Do I have enough apples at home? In order to reduce our purchasing decisions, Alice Boys suggests the Always buy-Rule before: Products that we consume continuously and to a large extent, we can basically pack with every purchase, so that we always have a certain amount of stock. It may not sound like a huge gain for the mental energy reserves, but it saves us a few thoughts in everyday life, and that can be noticeable.

3. The “laissez faire” rule

Especially in stressful and mentally demanding situations, Alice Boys recommends completely abandoning the optimal path and choosing the option that can help to reduce our stress at this moment. If, for example, we are madly thirsty, there is a gas station around the corner, the next supermarket is unfortunately not on our way, the psychologist advises simply buying the water at the gas station, even if it is twice as expensive there as in the Supermarket. Working out a plan for how we can get past the supermarket, thinking about how long we can still function without water – all of this costs us energy in such a situation, which we can basically save. Because when it comes to the underlying question: what is more important, our (mental) health or making everything perfect, the decision is (hopefully) obvious.

4. The “always do it the same” rule

In the case of recurring tasks, the psychologist suggests that we always do them in the same way (if it has proven itself). When we do our housekeeping, we just start dusting each time and then continue in the same order each time. Get a new recipe as soon as our stocks last for seven days. Routines relieve us and wherever possible and useful, we can confidently incorporate them into our everyday life so that we never waste a thought on them again (or as long as we can).

5. The “now” rule

This is a common decision we face in everyday life Now or later-Dilemma: Do I call my family doctor now or later? Do I wash up now or later? Do I go shopping now or later? For this purpose, Alice Boys recommends trying out for a week or so, basically opting for the now in such situations. It may not always work, and it may not work for everyone, but when it does, this rule can bring considerable relief.

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