Every day we are faced with decisions. From the moment we wake up and walk into our closet to decide what to wear for the day, we are making decisions that will affect our day, and our life.
When we get to work this morning we have to decide how we will structure our day, what phone calls to return, and what emails to respond to. Nearly ever minute of our day we are using valuable brain power to move projects forward, serve customers, relate with people, and make extremely important decisions, like, what color toothbrush should I buy.
The other day it dawned on me that we probably waste loads of valuable brainpower on decisions like what color toothbrush to pick. I was in the grocery store the other day browsing the shelves to replace my wife and my ratty old toothbrushes, and was overwhelmed with the number of colors, types, and brands to choose from. Ultimately I grabbed two brushes that most closely resembled the ones we had before in the colors green and blue. I would later let my wife decide who gets what color.
A few days later I found myself in the store again, tasked with getting a birthday card for my mother. I eventually became so overwhelmed with the amount of cards and messages and just walked away. Thankfully we had a nice blank card at home that we wrote our own message in.
It made me think, of ways I could cut down on the use of brain power to save that energy for more important tasks, like making important business decisions, and having enough mental energy left in the tank at the end of a long day to connect with our spouse and family.
I had once heard that Thomas Edison wore the same outfit every single day, in order to eliminate the decision making process of what cloths to wear every day. I have a friend in my hometown, Denton, that was known for always wearing blue jeans and a denim shirt. He could ALWAYS be seen wearing the same outfit. Whether or not Glen was trying to conserve brainpower is a question I can’t answer, but I’m sure it freed up some iota of creative juices to contribute to his musical endeavors.
This led me to think of ways to conserve precious brainpower so that our mental energy can be directed at things that truly matter.
1. Eat the same breakfast, and possibly lunch, every day. I have a smoothie every day for breakfast, so this one is already pretty easy for me. About the only time I ever change that up is if I am meeting somebody for breakfast. If you eat at work, pack a salad every day, or eat the same sandwich. It may sound boring, but if you pick a healthy lunch you will probably also benefit from the nutrients you are getting on a regular basis.
2. Simplify your wardrobe. Maybe wearing the same outfit every day is not for you, it’s definitely not for me. But, make it easier on yourself by removing shirts you don’t wear so that you don’t have to peruse by them in your selection process. Maybe become a t-shirt and jeans guy (or gal), like myself. Anything you can do to simplify your wardrobe will help.
3. Have a mind dump. We always have little things that pop into our heads, like an errand we have to run, or phone call we have to make. Stop trying to remember those things, because you probably can’t and will likely waste mental energy trying. Carry around a small note book, or app on your smart phone that will allow you to quickly record, and forget, any random idea that pops into your head, just make sure you go back and review this list later.
4. Develop an organizational system that will let you visually see your workflow. I am a huge fan of the Kan-Ban method, which I have mentioned before. And, I use LeanKit to manage my projects, and other important tasks. The better your organizational system, the less stressed you will be, and the more brain power you will have to put towards actually completing the projects, rather than stressing over what to do next.
5. Don’t fret over simple decisions like birthday cards, and tooth brushes. It can be easy to allow the marketplace to over complicate your decision making process, but for something simple as a greeting card, keep a stack of blank cards at home that can be used for any occasion. When it comes to a toothbrush, just pick the same one every month, or join a Toothbrush Subscription and never have to think about it again. The same can be said for razors if you shave, just join the Dollar Shave Club.
6. Don’t spend even one second looking for a pointless photo of a toothbrush to put into your blog post.
Some of these things might require a bit of extra brain power to get going, especially setting up an efficient organizational system, but the end result will be an overall more relaxed you, with the mental capacity to make smarter decisions and love your family. I can speak from personal experience. Before implementing the Kan-Ban into my work-life I couldn’t keep track of anything and I was always super stressed, and could never rest easy when I was away from work, but now that I have a good system in place I can breath a sigh of relief when I’m away from work because I have an amazing handle on exactly what is going on. My brain is at rest!