Have you ever thought about the number of decisions you have to make in your everyday life, and the impact this could be having on your business?
My 6 month old daughter has recently started eating solid foods, which has meant spending lots of time thinking about what exciting food combinations to offer her every day.
At the same time, my other half has been on a bit of a health-kick. All this has meant I’ve had to spend even more time than usual thinking about what to cook over the past couple of months, and where to buy it from. Do I buy my quinoa and goji berries from the health food shop, or the supermarket? Organic or normal? If I go down the supermarket route, which one is best?
The worst thing is that after hours of recipe-reading and wholefood browsing, I’m too tired to actually make a decision and actually buy something. So I just give up and go to bed, wrapped in a shroud of self-loathing for wasting yet another evening. The next day I’m serving pasta for dinner again, and boring old mashed banana for the little one….!
I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to the impact that taking all these small decisions could be having on me and my business until last week, when I read an article which mentioned a concept that was new to me – “decision fatigue”. Did you know that President Obama only wears blue or grey suits, so that he doesn’t have to waste brain power on un-important decisions every day?
He told the New Yorker: “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”
To say that was a bit of a “ah-ha” moment would be an understatement! Now I think about it, it makes perfect sense. If I’ve already had to make decisions about what to wear, how to dress my kids, what to give them for breakfast and what to pack for lunch before I’ve even sat at my desk in the morning….what are the chances I’m going to be thinking creatively and firing on all cylinders? Slim to none.
I know things are only going to get worse as the holidays approach (what presents should I buy, where will we spend Christmas day…). So now I’m on a mission to implement systems in every area of my life – not just my business.
Being productive isn’t just about squeezing more out of your available time. To me being productive is all about maximising your best assets. Mine happens to be my brain, and I’ll bet yours is too!
I reckon that if – like President Obama – you can reduce the number of small decisions you have to make every day, you’ll have more energy left for working on the things that count. I’m already finding I have more willpower and my day gets off to a much better start – I’m being braver with my marketing, and spending a lot less time procrastinating!
Here are some of the systems I have started to implement in my business and personal life – see if any of these could help you too:
• I use Mayi Carle’s “Life Is Messy” planners to organise just about every aspect of my week Seriously, my life is changed now that I use the meal planners and weekly business planners to work out what I’m doing each week in advance.
• Each night before I go to bed, I plan out what I’m going to do the following day. That way, as soon as I sit down at my computer in the morning, I know exactly what I’m going to do first. I use Remember the Milk to schedule tasks, and book appointments in Google Calendar so that these are also visible on my iPhone.
• I schedule social media updates that are part of my strategic marketing plan (e.g. links back to my website or online shop) in advance using HootSuite or Buffer. I still need to interact and respond to messages, but I no longer have to think about what to write.
• I have created a big list of topics I would like to cover on my blog, and outlined them very quickly in draft using Evernote. When I want to write a new post or send a newsletter to my list, I just go that that list and pick whatever is at the top. Again, I’ve done most of the thinking already, so it saves me making a decision on what I’m going to write about.
• I give myself a deadline for making decisions, and if I have the budget for it – pay an expert to make those decisions for me. For example – when I decided I wanted to create a new marketing eCourse for handmade sellers, I had never done anything like that before and didn’t have a clue where to start with the technical side of things. I could have spent a long time researching my options, but decided to hire Kat at PaperClip Fox because she had very relevant expertise. I paid around $100 for a document telling me exactly what to do and which solutions to use, and it was money well spent! If I hadn’t have done that, I’d probably have run out of time and energy for the really exciting and interesting part of the job, which was creating the course content.
• I have started doing all of my grocery shopping online – I save my favourites that I need to order every week, use my meal plan to help me, and order on the same day each week. For things we buy a lot of (wholefoods, eco-friendly cleaning products etc), I have bought in bulk. So I won’t need to take another decision on that front for at least a couple of months! (UK online shops: Sainsbury’s and Ecotricity)
I’m sure there are a lot more areas of my life I could organise and streamline, but I’m already seeing results from the above. So even if you’re a time-management sceptic, I’d urge you to think about ways that you could cut down on making small decisions and see what impact it has.
Leave a comment below to let me know what changes you’re going to make!
Claire Hughes — Make, Do & Sell
Claire Hughes is an online marketing consultant with over ten year’s experience running campaigns for some of Europe’s biggest brands. Proud to call herself an internet geek and home-working mum, she now focuses exclusively on working with creative entrepreneurs. You’ll find Claire sharing free tips and advice on the Make, Do & Sell blog, as well as co-leading the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course. That’s when she’s not changing nappies or feeding her Pinterest addiction, of course…..
There’s nothing Claire loves more than helping talented ladies overcome their marketing challenges and achieve their wildest dreams. Why not connect with her on Twitter and tell her all about yours?Share on Facebook