By: Trisha Bautista
Ever find yourself extra tired at the end of the day, grumpy, irritable, and prone to doing or saying things you later on regret? Or how about successfully following your diet plan in the morning, only to cave and snack later that night?
You might be suffering from decision fatigue. According to a new study on mental discipline by scientists at Florida State University, our brains have a limited amount of mental energy that we quickly use up with every decision we have to make, which also relates to our ability to exert self-control.
That means willpower is like a muscle—the more we use it, the more it gets exhausted. In fact, as we use up our store of willpower for the day, we humans tend to give up going through the mental process required for making informed decisions and end up being more reckless.
If you want to avoid being mentally tired and cranky and making choices you’ll regret later, consider setting a daily routine that will help you minimize the mental energy you could be saving for big decisions. Start with these tweaks:
1. Plan your menu in advance—and stick to it.
Instead of wondering what you’re going to feed your family tomorrow and cramming in a grocery trip after work and chores, plan your family’s meals at least three days in advance. Set aside a special menu-planning time for yourself, to properly map out the meals you’ll need for the week ahead.
2. Keep a tally of your fridge’s contents.
Start out the week (or whenever grocery day is) by making an inventory of the supplies you have. Tack the list of stuff up on your refrigerator, and cross out the items as they get used. When it’s time to go grocery shopping, you’ll know what you have or don’t have at a glance and won’t have to stand at the supermarket wondering what supplies you were supposed to get.
3. Give yourself a “uniform.”
How many of us spend so many extra minutes (and brain energy) choosing and re-choosing outfits to wear for the day? To save your mental energy, consider adapting a kind of uniform for yourself. Think all-black-everyday, or the go-to combo like nice jeans and a button down daily, or shift dresses for every day of the week. Classic cuts and silhouettes are always reliable, especially when your clothes come in one color palette!
4. Give yourself a schedule and stick to it.
The most stressful days are often those that involve waking up too late, not having enough time to do what you planned to, and traffic, of course. It also often leaves you harried as you end up having to choose what things to prioritize and what to postpone for later. Save yourself the mental stress by setting a schedule for your day (with your wake up time to the horrendous traffic time factored in) the night before, and actually following it—don’t forget to set your alarm!
Trisha Bautista is a writer, editor, and PR practitioner with articles published in many of the country’s top magazines and lifestyle websites. She’s a mother to an eight months-old baby boy, and is constantly trying to find the time to stay fit and healthy while balancing married life, motherhood, career, and a social life. She enjoys discovering health, fitness, beauty, and shopping hacks to maximize time and money, and loves the occasional wine night.