Save Energy by Managing Your Appoplexy

It is so easy to find an app for every little convenience these days. Whether you’re looking for travel short-cuts, recipes, or simply games to pass the time. Search any topic on Apple or Android and you’ll find millions of them, most free or less than five dollars. Installing them is as easy as clicking on “open,” authorizing installation with your thumb and waiting a few seconds for it to load. Voilà, instant convenience and fun.

In many ways, however, apps have become a crutch as everyone reaches for their smart phone seeking assistance with everything under the sun. But there is a more insidious cost of having an app for every need imaginable. All these apps can be a source of decision fatigue. Imagine trying to save a bit of money by using the app you’re positive you’ve downloaded to save a couple of bucks on Bar-B-Que. As you page through each screen, your brain has to examine each app’s icon ever-so-briefly to determine whether or not that’s the one you’re looking for. Each one of these neural transactions consumes a bit of the sugar energy your brain depends upon to focus and function.

Too many apps can clog up the system. There’s the conference app you downloaded for that meeting in Detroit back in 2016. There’s the Sit or Squat app you downloaded to help your aging parents find the closest public toilet on last year’s vacation. There’s that car seat helper app you used seven years ago, except now your kids are in middle school. If you can’t remember the exact name of the Bar-B-Que app or what it looks like, you could spend five minutes looking for something that will only save you two bucks. And once you’ve found it, you’ll probably spend another couple of minutes updating it, depending on the speed of the local internet.

Sometimes in seminars, I’ll ask those attending to pull out their smart phones and count the number of apps they have downloaded. The record so far on one device is 241. That’s ten full screens of 24 apps each. Here’s the bottom line. When it comes to apps, the more convenience you have, the less convenience you have.

Decision fatigue is caused by making too many unproductive decisions. Looking for that “needle-in-a-haystack” app is a great example of why we feel tired halfway through the day. This is a phenomenon I call appoplexy. So here’s a quick solution. Take out your smart phone right now and delete an app you really don’t use. Then make a practice of doing so whenever you’re on line at the grocery store, waiting to get your car washed, or waiting for the movie to begin. Eliminating little decisions will conserve the energy you need for the bigger decisions throughout the day.

The Final Word on Multitasking

The debate about whether multitasking improves performance has been going on for more than a decade. Those on one side, maintain that their ability to do two, three, or even four things at once gives them an edge on the day. Those on the other side, argue that focusing on one task at a time produces a better outcome for each endeavor.

Based on interviews with hundreds of decision makers and my own experience, I’ve come down on the one-task-at-a-time side. In reviewing some brain science research, I have become even more convinced that those who claim to successfully multi-task are really deceiving themselves.

Neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitan, author of need to buy viagra penguin writing paper cialis san buenaventura search viagra edinburgh cialis charles viagra cost out of pocket follow url follow url reserach paper examples algebra tutoring online go site essay about the fashion how do i add my email to my iphone 5s domake homework buy original essay american studies thesis how to make a conclusion of a research paper follow url standard dose for cialis is generic viagra legal in the usa essay writing my pet dog enter site helping other people essays go comprar viagra generico sem receita source link viagra in water supply source viagra product go to link levitra havelock The Organized Mind, explains it this way: “Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation.”

Levitan goes on to say that, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel we need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented even after a short time.”

Relatedly, Torkel Klingberg, M.D., Phd., author of The Overflowing Brain, observes, “How well we manage to multi-task can be related to the information load on working memory. Often, we can do the tasks if one of them is automatic, such as walking. For an activity to be designated “automatic,” it no longer demands any activation of the frontal lobes. However, a working memory task can never be automatic, as the information it contains always has to be encoded through the continual activation of the frontal and parietal lobes. This is why it can be so difficult to do two working memory tasks at once.” In other words, you can’t attend to more than one task at the same time.

There are those who will argue that regardless of the research, they have no choice but to multi-task. “It’s the only way I can keep up,” they’ll say. Or, “My boss claims she does it and expects everyone else to do the same.” Those people have my sympathy. Well established beliefs die hard. But as Levitan puts it, “You’d think people would realize that they’re bad at multitasking and would quit. But a cognitive illusion sets in, fueled in part by at dopamine-adrenaline feedback loop, in which multitaskers think they are doing great.”

So, if you can’t multi-task, how do you keep up? By focusing on one task at a time to completion or until you can’t progress due to a missing element, resource or decision. Yes, that requires concentration and the discipline to resist the temptations to do more. How do the best decision makers do this? I’ll cover that in the next post.

Five Simple Strategies for Battling Decision Fatigue

With the advent of mobile technology, it has become easy to feel tied to the workplace at all times. Do you clear e-mail waiting for dinner to arrive? Do people ask you to stop texting during the movie? Is everyone passing you on the road because you find it tough to focus on a customer call and drive at the same time? (You know who you are.) A recent survey conducted by Robert Half International found that 96% of managers say their people have too much to do every day.

The result of this, of course, is decision fatigue, that feeling that you’re just plain tired of making decisions and figuring stuff out. This condition impacts both sides of the employment relationship. For the employee, it fosters resentment, a feeling of helplessness and even anger. For the employer, it impacts productivity, quality of work, and staff turnover levels. With the ever-increasing emphasis on efficiency and the bottom line, however, the solution is not simple.

But what can you do, personally, to battle this insidious affliction? After all, it’s not what happens to you that counts. It’s how you respond. So, here are five quick strategies to commence the fight:

Number one, take stock. If we take a hard look in the mirror, most of us will realize that we can be our own worst enemy. We’re doing things we shouldn’t be doing. We’re making decisions others should be making. We’re doing things the old way rather than adapting. So, take a couple of days and catalog the tasks you complete and the decisions you make. Nothing fancy. Just a list. Include everything from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. Then look for items that can be eliminated, performed by someone else, or simplified. Even if you find one or two, it will be worth the effort. You may say, “Who’s got time for this? You’re just adding to my decision fatigue.” But if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘nuf said.

Number two, say “no” more often.Sometimes, we are reluctant to challenge the endless parade of assignments handed down from above, for fear of irritating someone or even putting our jobs in jeopardy. Yet well thought-out and rehearsed responses to assignments that get piled on will generally be met with dialog about how to accomplish the work without overwhelming everyone. I address how to accomplish this in more detail in this post.

Number three, say “yes” less often.How often do you say, “Sure,” or “Happy to do so,” or “Not a problem,” during the week? You might be doing this out of a desire to please. You might worry that if you don’t say “yes” you’ll lose an opportunity. Or maybe, you naturally want to help, but fail to consider your calendar and existing commitments. The best decision makers have trained themselves to hesitate before committing impulsively. They say things like, “I might be able to help, but let me check my calendar,” or “I’d be happy to pitch in on part of that. I just need to be mindful of my time.” In this way, they frame the agreement on their terms.

Number four, rid your phone of useless conveniences.Have you ever watched someone swipe left over and over trying to find the app that will save them a couple of minutes. Then they wait a couple of minutes for the latest update to load because the WIFI is slow. Maybe this has been you. We tend to download apps because they seemed like a good idea at the time. Truthfully, most are just sand in the gears of our decision making. The next time you’re sitting in line at the car wash or waiting for the movie to begin after 13 minutes of trailers, delete a few of the apps you really don’t need. Doing this once a week will relieve some of that background stress you feel from having too many options.

Number five, learn what others do to cope.Who around you is the best about managing all the daily decisions and tasks we now navigate? What are these individuals doing that you should be doing? What are they not doing that you should not be doing? Chances are, they have learned these strategies from others. You should learn from them and then pass them along to others who also need the help. These five tactics will not alleviate all of the decision fatigue you feel. But they will serve as a start toward your recovery.

Overcoming the Tyranny of Choice

We’ve all become spoiled by the number of choices we have. Supermarkets offer more than 60,000 consumer goods in all sizes and shapes. Searching on-line generates thousands of links for even the most obscure topic or item. Artificial intelligence anticipates the words we want to use in a text, the products we want to buy and provides instant directions if we search for a particular store or business.

Yet there is building evidence that many people are feeling overwhelmed by the number of decisions forced upon them daily. Constant pop-ups conspire to deflect out attention. We find ourselves declining endless offers in exchange for personal information. We resort to placing phones on silent and refusing to answer any call for which we do not recognize the number. Some people have begun to call this the “tyranny of choice.”

“OKAY!” you might say. “Tell me something I don’t know. Better still, teach me how to battle this tyranny of choice. So, consider these four strategies when attempting to reduce the decision fatigue in your life.

Review the apps on your phone and remove the ones you’re not using.Do you really need a tip calculation app? Twenty percent of $24.03 is $2.40 times two or $4.80, for instance. You get the idea. How about that app you downloaded to navigate last year’s industry convention? When was the last time you opened that? How about the app that allows you to age your face? Chances are, the novelty wore off after 48 hours. Remember, by the way, that even if they’re not open many of these apps are tracking your location, personal information and even your purchasing history. After all, you probably gave them permission when you clicked on “Accept Terms and Conditions” without reading them.

Install an ad blocker.Simply search on ad blocker for each browser you use. Then follow the instructions. I know. You’ve been meaning to do it. But there are so many other decisions you need to deal with first. Just do it. Total time invested? About 15 minutes.

Add a note about Reply All to your signature file.It might read something like – Thanks for NOT copying me on e-mails for which I do not need to respond. This will not end this nuisance completely. But even it drops by 20%, you will have reduced your decision fatigue.

Schedule internet and YouTube searches for just before another commitment. It’s so easy to open a browser for “just a minute” and lose 20 minutes for your life. Need to research a new appliance? Do so 10 minutes before that meeting on Zoom. Trying to figure out how to install linoleum in you your basement bathroom? Search for instructions on YouTube just before that lunch you have coming up.

Decision fatigue is hampering all of us at this point. Implement these simple ideas to reduce your daily stress. I’d offer you more strategies for doing so. But then I’d just be contributing to your tyranny of choice.