Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Decision Avoidance

One of the biggest adjustments I thought I was going to go through when I took a new job was becoming a commuter. Commuting in consulting usually involves a couple of flights a week - but in my new role I'm working out in the burbs and one of my biggest worries, honestly, was driving every day (that's also a sign that I thought the job was a good fit).

And sure, since I started a few months ago, I've had to start driving ~50 minutes each way to and from the office, but I honestly haven't been that disturbed by it.

A big reason for that, is my Waze app.

That's the app that gives you live turn-by-turn directions, and it updates your routing dynamically as you drive. If a gas truck were to explode on the main highway I take home, the app would let me know and direct me around (but I'd probably ignore it to go check out the inferno).

But it's not that the directions save me that much time -- it's really about the fact that it takes a whole bunch of decisions off my brain-plate.

In the first week or so of my new job - I spent a ton of time trying to figure out the optimal path to work. That included what time I would leave in addition to which of the infinite ways I could route myself. All of those options kept me busy making a whole bunch of decisions. Should I get off the highway here? Should I try to cut over now? Is this lane really moving?

All of those were decisions I had to make - and they weren't important - took mental capacity.

But with Waze - I just tell it to take me to work, and it tells me the right way. No more decisions.

Trying to offload minor decisions is something I've always been trying to do more of. It's what led me to develop the 'Wheel of Lunch' with some of my consulting project teams. For all of us at the client, the hardest thing we ever had to do was figure out a place to go to lunch...because no one wanted to make a decision.

The solution, was a wheel with all the reasonable lunch choices on it. At lunchtime, there are no more decisions - you just spin and go. No more mental calories burned.

I mean, that's why we all get into routines - routines to wake up and get ready for work, routines at the gym - all because it saves our brain fuel tank from depleting.

Then not too long ago I read an article about Mark Zuckerberg and why he wears the same outfits every day:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had his first-ever public Q&A session on Thursday.

He answered a lot of questions, but the one that got a lot of interest was, “Why do you wear the same T-shirt every day?”

For those who haven’t noticed, Zuckerberg wears the same gray T-shirt at most public events. While many expected a playful response, Zuckerberg gave a pretty serious answer for his penchant to wear the same gray shirt.

"I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community," Zuckerberg said, after clarifying that he had "multiple same shirts."

He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn't want to waste any time on that.

A-ha - validation!

Of course - there is one problem with my effort to push off making small decisions. I usually try and push them off on my wife - but she's trying to do the same thing - so it just boomerangs.

I think we just need to get a roommate - then we can just push all of the decisions off on them.

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