Making decisions, even trivial ones, can be exhausting. Find out why this happens and how to simplify the process to improve your daily life.
Everyday decisions: why are they so tiring?
From the moment we wake up, our day is punctuated by a multitude of decisions to be made, some important and some more trivial. Daily life is filled with choices, and sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by their number. According to studies, this abundance of options can cause anxiety in some people, who feel they lack the experience to properly evaluate their choices.
Fewer Options, Less Stress: The Jam Experiment
American psychologists, Sheena Iyengar and Mark Leeper, have shown that fewer options make decision-making easier. They conducted an experiment in a supermarket, where they set up a jam tasting table. The result: one third of the customers bought jam when there were six flavors, compared to only 3% when 24 flavors were offered. This experiment illustrates how too many options can sometimes paralyze us.
Maximize or Satisfy: Two Decision-Making Strategies
Researchers have identified two main strategies for making decisions: maximizing and satisfying. Maximizing is the search for the best option, while satisfying, a concept introduced by Nobel laureate Herbert Simon, is the ending of the search once an acceptable option is found. People who tend to maximize are often less satisfied with their lives and have more regrets after making a decision.
Making choices faster through habits
Decisions can be mentally exhausting, but there are ways to make the process easier. Philosopher William James suggested that habits can help us manage the complexity of decision making. Habits eliminate the need to think and allow us to save our energy for more important decisions. The co-founder of Apple
Steve Jobs, was famous for wearing similar outfits every day to simplify his daily choices.
Manage your resources for optimal decision making
Learning to manage your cognitive, emotional, and physical resources is essential to facilitating decision making. Thinking too much about a choice can consume the energy you need to act. Reducing the number of options and developing good habits can help you better manage your daily decisions. By accepting that you have limited “decision capital” and being aware of how you use it, you can optimize your decision-making process. Trust your intuition and let your “system one” (fast and intuitive) take over when possible. By applying these tips, you will be able to face the choices that come your way every day with more confidence.
I am a student and I am part of the editorial staff of thesilverink.com. I have the chance to enjoy writing, however, I also like to discuss all subjects and especially anything related to Science.