Wherever you live, whatever you do, chances are you make a lot of decisions every day. And those decisions can add up to the point of exhaustion — even if they're teeny-tiny ones, like pulp or no pulp. After a day's worth of choices, our brains are tired, which is why you can’t seem to make up your mind at the ice cream shop or why the automatic "play next episode" function on Netflix is so very clutch.
It’s also why some creative, successful people choose to streamline their day, eliminating decisions about what to wear — and what to eat.
Decision Fatigue: It's Real
Consider the sheer volume of decisions you make on a daily basis. The choices about food alone are limitless: Skim milk or whole milk? Breakfast pastry or breakfast sandwich? White rice or brown rice?
While these may seem insignificant — admittedly, they're not hard decisions — they do add up. In fact, science has a name for the way you feel after a day of endless choices: decision fatigue.
The basic idea is that our brain power is limited, and when we have to make a lot of decisions — big or small — we deplete our mental stores. In short, our brains turn to mush and we either can’t make decisions, or we make bad ones. It’s a bit like being hangry.
One solution for the decision fatigue we face in our modern lives is to purposefully limit the number of choices you make in a day by simplifying your routine. There are plenty examples of successful people (including President Obama) who wear the same thing (or very nearly) every day. Likewise, others choose to eat the same lunch, day in and day out. Their lunch is their outfit; the thing they don't even have to think about, so they can think about other, more important, things (like, say, what's for dinner).
This might seem off-putting if you love making those decisions (the choice between breakfast pastry and egg sandwich is one of life's great delights, after all), but if you want to really put energy into creative, delightful opportunities — whether that's a multi-course home-cooked dinner, a creative pursuit, or a fulfilling job — sometimes it's smart to limit your decisions in other areas.
5 Successful People Who Embrace the Lunch Uniform
Here are the stories of five different people who find that a uniform meal gives them the freedom and the focus to succeed in other parts of their lives — running faster, meeting that deadline, passing that exam. For them, lunch is the choice they've streamlined so they can enjoy the good life (and good food) even more fully elsewhere.
Read their stories, explore their lunches, and tell us: Can you relate to decision fatigue? If you do, have you streamlined parts of your life to deal with it? Perhaps you can't relate to the decision to eat the same meal every day, but you've made choices elsewhere to allow creative time and space for all three of your meals each day. If so, tell us! We'd love to hear your stories of how your food and creativity feed off each other.