Decisions exhaust our willpower. We each have one reservoir of will and discipline, and it gets progressively depleted by active choices.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Factoids
The point of this factoid is that ANY decision depletes our willpower.
And we only get so much willpower energy reserves in a day.
So if we waste our willpower making a lot of small decisions, we'll be less able to resist a cupcake.
One solution is "Life Automation" -- that is, Make Things Automatic:
The secret to getting more done is to make things automatic. Decisons exhaust you:
The counterintuitive secret to getting things done is to make them more automatic, so they require less energy.
It turns out we each have one reservoir of will and discipline, and it gets progressively depleted by any act of conscious self-regulation. In other words, if you spend energy trying to resist a fragrant chocolate chip cookie, you’ll have less energy left over to solve a difficult problem. Will and discipline decline inexorably as the day wears on.
Build routines and habits so that you’re not deciding, you’re just doing. When you first learn to drive it’s 1000 activities like steering, shifting, checking mirrors, braking — but with practice you turned it into autopilot and it’s no stress at all.
Note also it works in reverse: spending energy solving a difficult problem makes it less likely you can resist the cookie. So be careful, and automate more.
That passage is part of Eric Barker's "Five Things to Be More Effective at Work" :
Here's the original source article, and it's a good read:
Hate to be the one to break this to you... but I sort of doubt that dog has depleted his willpower by making decisions and exercising discipline all day long. Pretty sure his thought process was more like this: CUPCAKE!!! >>> NOM
True, a better picture would have been a person trying to resist the cupcake after making twenty decisions that morning such as "what should I wear today?", "what do I want to eat for breakfast today?", "what article should I read this morning?", etc.
The more we can automate, the less decisions we need to make, and the better our ability to exercise willpower when we need it.