Productivity

Feeling Mentally Drained? You May Need to Go on a Decision Detox

Decision Detox

If you find it difficult to stick to good habits and are having trouble reaching your goals, it may be the result of decision fatigue. A decision detox can help you get back on track.

We all have those days where we feel like there are just too many choices. Should I go grocery shopping today after work or tomorrow morning? What should I make for dinner tonight? When can I squeeze in a workout?

In fact, it’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions per day. And researchers at Cornell University estimate we make roughly 227 decisions each day on food alone!

It may seem like all this decision making is the obvious consequence of a busy life. Unfortunately, it’s draining us of our mental energy, which can have real consequences on our lives—and finances.

What Is Decision Fatigue?

Coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, decision fatigue is the emotional and mental strain resulting from a burden of choices. It’s one reason many of us feel exhausted after a stressful day at work even though we were sitting down most of the day.

As your mental energy decreases, you’re more likely to let basic desires take over and make whatever decision seems easiest at the time. For example, you might decide to pick up takeout on your way home rather than cook the healthy dinner you planned.

When decision fatigue sets in, our ability to consider the long-term impact of a decision goes out the window. Meaning, there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re having trouble accomplishing your goals. It just means you may need to go on a decision detox. 

How to Do a Decision Detox

A decision detox doesn’t mean eliminating all decisions from your life altogether. The goal is to make fewer decisions so you can clear mental space for what matters.

Here are five strategies for reducing decision fatigue and boosting your mental energy:

Decision Detox Tip #1: Anticipate Routine Decisions

Do you find yourself wasting time on similar decisions every day? Like what to wear or eat for breakfast? The fewer decisions you make early in the day, the more energy you’ll have for more important decisions later.

The solution is to plan accordingly. For example, you can choose your outfit the night before so you’re not struggling to put something together in the morning. If you have trouble deciding what to eat most days, try prepping your meals for the week on Sunday so you always have healthy options in the fridge.

The same is true for routine financial decisions. Consider automating your monthly bill payments and setting up automatic transfers to your emergency fund and retirement savings.

Decision Detox Tip #2: Set Healthy Boundaries and Learn to Say “No”

Many of us have a hard time saying no, especially if it lets someone we care about down. But people pleasing can be mentally draining. If you tend to agonize over how to respond to invitations or requests for your time, you’re contributing to your decision fatigue.

An effective decision detox includes setting healthy boundaries. It’s not easy, but it can save you valuable mental energy. If you haven’t read it, Essentialism by Greg McKeown is a great book for helping you focus on what matters in your life, so you can confidently say no to everything else.

Decision Detox Tip #3: Avoid Making Decisions When You’re Tired, Hungry, Stressed, etc.

There’s a reason everyone says not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Or to avoid major decisions when you’re stressed or grieving. When we’re in survival mode, we’re more likely to take the path of least resistance. That may mean buying food that tastes great but isn’t exactly nutritious or making an impulsive decision that we later regret.

If you feel like you’re slipping into survival mode, there are a few things you can do to pull yourself out. Spend a few minutes meditating, go for a walk, or connect with a friend. Adding these types of activities to your decision detox can help you restore your mental energy and make better decisions more consistently.

Decision Detox Tip #4: Designate Times to Check Email, Texts, and Social Media

Most Americans check their phone about 160 times per day, according to a recent study. If this sounds like you, your smartphone habit may be working against you. For example, if you see a new text or email come in, you may feel compelled to respond immediately. Unfortunately, even communication that feels easy—like responding to a friend about where you want to meet for lunch later—can zap your mental energy.

As part of your decision detox, try designating specific times for communication and scrolling your social media feed. You may be surprised how much more you can get done when your phone isn’t constantly distracting you. And how much more energy you have at the end of the day! 

Decision Detox Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

Lastly, just because you can do it all yourself doesn’t mean you have to. Our time and energy are finite resources. Sometimes reaching your goals means asking for help.

Whether it’s at work, at home, or in your financial life, look for areas where you can delegate decisions to someone else. If delegating allows you to spend more time and energy on things that bring you joy, it’s probably worth it.

At Curtis Financial Planning, our goal is to be a fiduciary financial partner to our clients so they can focus more time and energy on what they love and do best. If you believe we may be a good fit and can help you achieve your financial goals, please schedule a call.

And if you’re ready to go on a decision detox in your financial life, check out The Happiness Spreadsheet—a fresh, inspiring approach to budgeting that aligns your spending with your values.

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Silver Linings Amid Calamity Or, How I’m Trying to Keep Sane Sheltering At Home

Photo by Simone Viani on Unsplash

I could almost hear a collective groan as I read this text today: “Public Health shelter at home extended through May 3.”

May 3?? That’s another 33 days! Meanwhile, while scrolling my Twitter and Instagram feeds, I’ve noticed an increase in angst and desperation, but also humor:

“I just disinfected a box of disinfectants. I don’t even know who I am anymore.”

“We all owe 2019 an apology for what we said about it.”

“When I hear NFL News, it’s like a briefing from another planet.”

Or:

“I am desperately trying to find the positive moments in these tough times. Going to sleep thinking about the good things that happened today because of this pandemic nightmare.”

I relate to the person that wrote that last tweet. I’m trying to find the silver linings in an otherwise truly horrible situation. 

MY LIST OF SILVER LININGS

  • Being forced to slow down and think about what is essential.
  • Virtual happy hours with old and new friends
  • Thinking that teachers might finally get the respect they deserve
  • Having the time and space to work on projects that have been languishing for far too long
  • Exercising outdoors instead of in a gym
  • Cooking more and knowing lots of other people are too
  • People who perfectly encapture what the rest of us are feeling with humor
  • More connections with clients because of Zoom
  • Watching the community support businesses devastated by the closures- restaurants, retail stores, service businesses
  • Cleaner air
  • Being able to indulge my inner introvert
  • Reading and listening to more books
  • Slowing down

Lastly, being so grateful for healthcare, retail, and other workers that are risking their own health to take care of the rest of us.

You might also enjoy Tips to Keep Your Brain Young and Free Of Disease

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10 Tips to Being a Happily Self-Employed Person

A friend who recently left her corporate job and is now self-employed asked me how I manage to run a business while still enjoying an active, interesting life outside of work.  She wanted some suggestions, which made me reflect on what has been most important for me in achieving a healthy and happy work-life balance.

I focus on these ten goals – and I must emphasize that it is always a work in progress – I succeed at some better than others, but I’m always trying.

1. Be flexible about when you work and when you play.

Schedule your day creatively: wake up early to finish a project so you can slip out of the office for a long lunch with a friend, or work later in the evening so you can enjoy a daytime activity.

I find that fitting everything into a strict 8 AM-to-5 PM time frame is not my most effective or productive schedule. And hey, flexibility is one of the perks of self-employment people report valuing the most!

2. Don’t be afraid to say No.

If you receive an invitation to do something interesting – whether it be moderating a panel, traveling to a conference, becoming a member of a board, or chairing a committee – don’t say yes immediately.

Stop and think about how the request fits in with or enhances your priorities. No one can do everything, and you can quickly be overwhelmed if you say yes too often. If you get burnt out from being overcommitted you are no good to anyone.

3. Take great care of your physical self.

Regular exercise and healthy eating contribute to the energy, endurance, focus, and confidence of a successful career.

I make sure to schedule daily exercise and subscribe to Michael Pollan’s philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I prioritize my physical health, which results in increased motivation and productivity. It’s a
win-win.

4. Quiet your mind.

For years I have been told that meditation reduces stress and anxiety and can increase productivity along with a multitude of other benefits. But I was too busy to slow down and try it.

I am now working on meditating in the morning – sometimes just going into a quiet room and taking a few deep breaths before starting the morning routine. I can now see where this habit is just as important as exercise and eating healthfully to having a balanced life.

5. Systematize everything you can.

This saves not only time, but the mental energy required to complete certain tasks and jobs. This applies to workflows at the office as well as household chores like paying bills.

Related: Financial Housekeeping: What To Do with Those “Old” 401(k)s

6. Spend time with people who lift you up.

Conversations and connections with positive, energetic people naturally make me feel positive and energetic, and those are the influences I choose to surround myself with. Seek out others to lift up – as a mentor, colleague, or friend – and empower optimism.

7. Work smarter, not longer or harder.

I used to sit at my desk until late in the evening, spending hours at my computer — which often resulted in a sore neck and shoulders (and being cranky when I got home) rather than my best work.

I am happier and more productive working in spurts – I work as a sprinter runs, with high-intensity, uninterrupted periods followed by a break to renew and refresh. I think more clearly and creatively, and stay fully engaged.

8. Develop support systems.

I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive spouse. We work as a team to manage the household, business, and pleasure aspects of our lives, and we outsource the tasks that we have neither the time or energy to do ourselves.

It’s tough to do it all, so play to your strengths and outsource what you need – personal assistant, tech support, housekeeper – delegate tasks so you can focus on that work-life balance.

9. Find a way to schedule uninterrupted work time.

If you are surrounded by people you are vulnerable to distractions. I find it’s much simpler to achieve a ‘flow’ state when I’m in a quiet space – and sometimes feel I accomplish a full day’s work in two hours when the flow is working.

If you have to, leave your office or home and go sit in a library, coffee shop or other alternative space to get some uninterrupted time.

10. Know yourself and where you want to put your energy.

When you can identify what makes you happy, and what is meaningful, you’ll be able to seek out the activities that support those interests and values.

I have a strong desire to live a varied and interesting life, and that knowledge drives me to stretch my limits by challenging myself and re-defining what’s possible — while focusing on taking care of myself so that I can continue to do more.

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3 Ways To Be Smarter, Saner, and Savvier

works smarter earn faster

works smarter earn faster

Much of my life, like yours, is spent on my desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

This has brought invaluable efficiencies to my work and personal life, but it has also brought tremendous headaches. So whenever I find a tool whether it be a gadget, app, or service that allows me to do or get what I want easier, I am all for it.

Here are a few sanity-savers that I hope you will find as useful as I do.

Be Smarter: Keep Up With Important News (And Sports Too!)

theSkimm

theSkimm started as a newsletter that is delivered to your inbox every day filled with pithy, cheeky, smart summaries of the top news stories of the day. Then, theSkimm App was launched, a subscription product that updates your calendar with upcoming events in culture, politics, sports, tech and more.  Just imagine yourself in a group of male colleagues all talking about the World Cup?

If you read theSkimm you would be able to chime in on the best teams, players, scores, etc. How cool is that? It’s an invaluable tool that makes it easier to be smarter – which happens to be theSkimm’s tagline. You can sign up here.

Be Saner: Reduce Email Subscription Clutter With Ease

Unroll.me

Unroll.me is a service that reclaims and organizes your inbox. Basically, it allows you to “roll-up” as many email subscriptions as you want into one email delivery per day.  It also will “unroll” you from unwanted subscriptions with one click.

The service currently supports Outlook.com (including Hotmail, MSN, and Windows Live, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud.

A typical email from unroll.me looks like this:  “We found 6 new subscriptions in your inbox. Why not roll them up or unsubscribe?” It’s a beautiful thing. Check it out here.

Be Savvier: Never (Or Rarely) Run Out of Battery Power On Your Phone Again

Portable Chargers

I’m not particular to any brand, but the charger I’m currently using was highly recommended on Amazon – it’s the Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini 3200mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger.

With a portable charger in your purse or pocket, you don’t scurry around trying to find an outlet while at a conference, traveling or just out and about doing errands. The charger is lightweight, powerful when fully charged and will add one and a half charges to an iPhone 5s. More details are available on Amazon.

What are your favorite apps or services, please share!

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