(4 minute read)
Imagine this: You have a personal fuck budget made out of all the fucks you can give in a day. Giving attention to something costs a fuck. Big decisions cost more than the little ones but the minimum is ꟻ 1 per decision.
(Yes, ꟻ is the currency symbol for fucks)
If we go back in time 30 years the amount of fucks to give was much less. You received a phone call a couple of times a day and only if you were at home. Nowadays the amount of incoming triggers is at a unhealthy level, every minute there is someone or something asking for your attention. You might say: "But Jack, I don't react to every trigger, so I don't always give a fuck!". I beg to differ: Noticing the trigger is giving a fuck and it depletes your personal fuck budget.
Obviously, you can replace the budget with mental energy, focus or attention. Many top performers know this and look for ways to keep their personal fucks budget for the things that matter:
Zuckerberg, Jobs and Obama:
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wears the same shirt every day. Check out the article on Business Insider. Why? He wants to make less decisions on a daily basis. He chooses to spend his energy on the things that matters. Like running Facebook. Other examples are obviously Steve Jobs (and his iconic turtleneck) and Barack Obama (Only grey and blue suits).
Another example of choice minimalism is Project 333, where people decide to dress with only 33 items for 3 month. Imagine how much less decision have to be made if wardrobe is removed from your personal fucks budget. I'm talking to you, ladies. Check out their website.
The Israeli parole board
A more serious example of decision fatigue was in an Israeli parole board where prisoners were more likely to be freed in the mornings than in the late afternoon. Why did this occur? The conclusion was decision fatigue: In the afternoon the jury decided to take the safe option of keeping the prisoners in prison after a morning of difficult decisions.
Obviously it's not only about changing your wardrobe, it's about all decisions we make. In a world where our phones are constantly asking for our attention we often suffer from 'decision fatigue'. Basically this means that increasing the amount of decisions you make, the poorer your judgement. Luckily, the opposite also applies: Making less decisions increases your ability to make better decisions.
An effective way to make less decision is to reduce the amount of triggers you receive. Most triggers come in through your devices: Laptop, tablet but most importantly your phone. On peak moments, silence your phone and turn off all notifications. If you want to go the Zuckerberg route: Reduce your wardrobe to a couple of items. If that grey shirt is fine one day, it's probably fine every day. Just buy a couple ones so they don't smell.
What I'm trying to say is: Put first things first and spend your energy on the things that matter, whatever that might be for you. Spending your personal fuck budget on the petty stuff is a sure way to keep you mentally exhausted.
Next time your mother-in-law starts a discussion about the colour of the tablecloth, give it a pass. Keep your fuck for the things that matter. Like deciding whether to snooze or not.
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