To make better decisions we have to make fewer decisions! Cleaning requires making a lot decisions in a short time. This leads to decision fatigue and eventually to bad decisions. By improving our cleaning tactics we can make fewer decisions. Thus, we improve our decision making.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You can only make a finite number of decisions every day. It is like having a decision credit. Every decision you make removes credits. Some more, some less. If your credit is depleted, you can’t make conscious decision. In that case habits take over or you take the path of the least resistance. Those decisions aren’t rational and most times have negative effects in long term. A good example is eating fast food after a long and hard workday. Instead of making something healthy you choose to cure the hunger.
“The present findings suggest that self-regulation and effortful choosing draw on the same psychological resource. Making decisions depletes that resource, thereby weakening the subsequent capacity for self-control. The impaired self-control was found on a variety of tasks, including physical stamina and pain tolerance, persistence in the face of failure, and quality and quantity of numerical calculation”
As good decisions are the source for a good life, it raises the question how to avoid decision fatigue? There are several ways to do so. All of them have the goal to reduce decision making. The goal is to create a decision free lifestyle.
Algorithms or Routines
An algorithm is a (ordered) list of instructions. In the context of decision fatigue algorithms are used to explain what to do without making decisions. You follow the instructions and you get your desired result. Algorithms are great for tasks that repeat. Examples would be the first hour of your morning, cleaning your house, preparing food and so on. Algorithms can also contain rules. In this sense rules define which instructions you have to do.
Sometimes it is enough to make a decision once. For example, Steve Jobs used to wear the same clothes every day. He avoided making the decision what to wear every morning. He committed to wear the same outfit every day. Be SMART!
Conditional decisions or Rules
Conditional decisions have the form “if then else”. If something happened or given, then do X or if not, then do Y.
New Cleaning Tactics
Before I knew about decision fatigue I thought that cleaning was just physically exhausting. After I cleaned I needed a break. I couldn’t find the motivation to do something afterwards. Then I realized it was mentally exhausting. I applied the above mentioned ways to avoid decision fatigue to cleaning.
First, I made a commitment to clean my flat every Friday. On Fridays I have the time and it’s more likely that I take girls home on a weekend.
Second, I created routines for each room. One of the biggest cleaning mistakes is not having a plan. Most people start somewhere and go on until they think it is clean. They have to make hundreds of small decisions. Instead, it is better to sit down once and create a routine. Then it is simple. Just follow the instructions.
As an example, look at my bedroom routine:
Change the bed sheets
Clean the bed frame
Vacuum the floor
Clean the wardrobe
Third, I created rules. This brings us to another big cleaning mistake. Every item you posses has to have a place. As soon as a new item is in your home you have to find a place for it. My most important cleaning rule is:
If something isn’t at its place, return it to its place!
I have 3 other rules but they are negligible.
Commitment, routines and rules are great ways to make cleaning a stress free activity. They are universal and always help against decision fatigue. Use them whenever you can!