How to Build an Automatic Decision System to Minimise Time Spent Thinking, Save Mental Energy & Leave More Time for Actual Important Work
February 7, 2023•613 words
Reading time: 3 min
Every decision we make contributes to decision fatigue.
This is why choosing what to buy, choosing a route home, and choosing actions is tiring. We make an uncountable number of decisions every day. By eliminating these choices, we can:
Save time by thinking and planning less
Free up mental bandwidth for more important decisions
Spend more time on goal-oriented action.
This is where a Decision Autopilot System comes in handy.
It's a personal system that allows you to bypass decision-making by making the choice automatic, unnecessary, or random.
For example, here are 4 modules in my Decision Autopilot System:
1. Pre-planned daily post-work activities.
I never have to choose or plan what to do when I get home. Less time spent thinking, more time spend working towards my goals.
I derive these activities from my Direction → Goal → Project/Habit system.
I want to be healthy → Hence my goal is to work out most days of the week → And my daily action is to perform 1 workout session (or rest) per day.
I have a pharmacy board examination coming up → Hence my goal is to understand & memorise everything a pharmacist should know → And my daily action is to finish my flash card queue for the day and test myself with a past paper.
This system applies to: home cleaning, laundry, visiting others, daily meals, daily writing, when I can completely chill & relax, etc.
2. Mix & matchable daily work clothes.
I never have to choose what to wear to work.
My clothes are chosen with just a few complementary colour palettes and designs that can be matched at random and still look respectable.
This is a good choice if you're not ready to go all in and buy 5 of the same set of clothes and wear the same thing every day.
And no one will ever question whether you wash your clothes.
3. Have pre-defined actions for idle time and common goals.
If I'm idle: Anki always have flash cards ready on my phone, front and center in my home screen. Social media is kept off my home screen.
If I want to study: Anki is always there on my phone and laptop, and my lecture slides are always accessible on cloud.
If I want to draft my daily writing: Standard Notes is my go-to app for capture. Typeshare is my next go-to for publishing.
No thinking required when I'm not doing anything useful.
4. Leave meal choices to random-number generators (RNG).
Yes, I do this.
I often take too long to choose what to eat, and it's a massive thought process.
What have I eaten recently? What's my healthy-to-junk-food ratio right now? Have I eaten enough protein and fibre today? What can I not eat? What do I like eating? How's this gonna appear/taste after I cook it / after I order it? Is it hard to eat/prepare? What's my calorie count right now?
Get that out of my head. Keep foods that you like and are reasonably healthy on an RNG app. Press a button, and my RNG answer is there. Keeps your diet balanced (because it's random).
Any decisions that I make should be relatively unique. Any common decision is either: automatised, made irrelevant, or chosen by chance.
Save time and mental energy for work and decisions that actually matter.