The Magic Power of Not Making Decisions -- How to Create More Willpower

04/03/2015 04:47 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2015

Every day we have to make more than 20,000 decisions


What time should you get up? Should you shower? For how long? Which shampoo works best? Which shirt will you wear? Which pants work best with that shirt? What are you going to eat for breakfast? Is there even time for breakfast? And this just covers a few basic decisions you have to make before leaving your home in the morning.

Making decisions every several seconds challenges your brain and drains your willpower. The good thing is that nearly 90 percent of these decisions, like greeting someone, are routine.

I don't care

What is really draining your energy is the 10 percent of decisions you actually have to stop and think about. Every day we only have a certain amount of willpower to make these decisions. Whenever this mental energy level is running low, we start to say "Whatever. I don't care..."

Think about your decision-making skills in the morning, compared to the decreased effort you put in during the evening hours, after a long day. The key to success is to plan as much as possible in advance to avoid making decisions about regular or unimportant stuff.

Digital nomad life on the road and at the home base

As a digital nomad I always have to work on my productivity and focus. This is especially true when I return to my home base in Berlin from a long trip; I find myself confronted with plenty of decisions to make. I hang out with more friends who live ordinary lives. I need to adapt my lifestyle and care even more about my headspace when I'm in big cities. People and the environment around me try to steal energy and attract attention. I feel overwhelmed.

So, over the years I implemented more and more routines into my daily life. I have a strict morning routine, limited choices in clothes, and four dishes I eat nearly every day. I try to plan as far ahead as possible: When to eat lunch, when to workout, which shirt to wear during workouts, when to Skype with my mum, when to go to sleep. The less decisions you have to make, the more headspace you have for the important stuff.

A script for the first 90 minutes of my day

When the alarm rings at 7:30 I get up, bathe, and prepare breakfast. Every day is the same: low-fat quark with oatmeal, low-fat milk, and whey protein. While eating I write my daily journal: The 5 Minute Journal.

By answering three simple daily questions I start the day with a focus on the positive elements in my life. I think about what tasks are important today and reinforce my strengths through daily affirmation.

After breakfast I follow a 15-minute guided meditation session with the Headspace app. After meditating I have a short and intense sports workout at home with the 7 Minute Workout app. Once this routine is over, I start with the most important tasks in the day. Still no Email or social media distraction allowed...

Get things done

When starting to work I use the Pomodoro technique (no, it's not eating a tomato while working), which means you fully concentrate on one task for 25 minutes without any distractions. After the first Pomodoro session I take a 5- or 10-minute break before starting the next Pomodoro session with distraction-free working. No email or social media until I get the first two Pomodoros done. TomatoTimer is a free Pomodoro tool if you want to give it a try.

At 10:00 a.m. you will already feel like this is one of the most productive days ever. You get a shitload done. You are more focused and less likely to sink into insignificant Facebook browsing if you have time restraints.

Balanced and healthy nutrition

When it comes to lunch I tend to have food delivered from a grocery store. I use Wunderlist to track which ingredients I need for each low-carb recipe and make sure that they are always available in the kitchen. That eliminates more decision-making; decide on two or four dishes you love and ensure you have all the ingredients at home. There are various delivery services out there. In Berlin, the startup ShopWings just launched. It's great!

Wearing the same stuff

I own two pairs of jeans and six shirts for going out  --  all from the same brand. When I am in Berlin I have one jacket and two pairs of shoes. The rule is I am only allowed a new piece of clothing if I swap it out for a current piece.

I try to decide on one brand I love and get all my stuff from them. That makes it easier to match. Less is more. Less gear = less decisions = more headspace.

Entrepreneurs like Marc Zuckerberg wear the same stuff every day. Steve Jobs did the same. They don't waste energy on deciding what to wear or eat.

Making no decisions = more time for you

Start today: Ask yourself where you make recurring decisions and how to eliminate and simplify your instances of decision-making.

Regain your time, regain your willpower!

THX for reading!
I am a Digital Nomad & Entrepreneur > Find out more about Marcus.