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How can we improve our willpower and make better decisions?

How can we improve our willpower and make better decisions?
[Photo: Becca McHaffieM/Unsplash]

Every Sunday evening, I lay out the clothes I’m going to wear for the next five days–for work and exercising–down to socks and underwear. I also cook dinner for the entire week and I prepare my lunch for Monday afternoon: a variation of the same salad I bring to work every day.

I do these things because it sets me up for the week, but I’ve also found that in the process, I’ve inadvertently automated certain parts of my life so I don’t have to make as many decisions. As I told my cohost Kate on this week’s episode of Secrets Of The Most Productive People, when I get home after a long, stressful day at work, I don’t want to think about what I will have for dinner. I just want to heat up a healthy, prepared meal.

Researchers have long debated whether or not our willpower and decision-making capacity is finite. One widely cited theory, called “ego depletion,” argues that it’s linked to a limited reserve of mental energy, but psychologists have challenged this conclusion in subsequent research. One thing is clear, though–not all decisions are created equal–and some will require more brain juice than others.

This week, we spoke to decision-making expert Sheena Iyengar, professor at the Columbia Business School and author of The Art Of Choosing, about how we can train ourselves and structure our lives to optimize our brain to make better decisions. Tune in to hear more on this week’s episode of Secrets Of The Most Productive People, which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, StitcherSpotify, RadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcast.

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