Lots of Little Decision Making Wears Out Your Brain

tired brain, switch taskingOne thing I learned in The Shallows by Nicolas Carr is just how much energy the brain has to expend in "SWITCH TASKING." The idea of Multi-tasking is a myth. That is not how the brain works. Instead, every time you shift focus to something different, the brain goes through a swtich, where it has to reload into operational memory, the information you need. When you shift your attention to something else, the brain goes to work, switching out ideas that are not needed and switching in what you do need for the new task.

Too much SWITCH TASKING makes your brain TIRED.

Aha Insight: We now live in a world where computers, internet and social media put us in to a NON-STOP mode of Switch Tasking. We are over-taxing our brain. Oh and by the way, don't think that repeatedly doing this makes your brain stronger and able to do more. it is not like weight training which can strengthen muscles. 

Now, here is another insight that stands alongside what makes our brains tired. It is our DECISION MAKING mental activity.

Every time you have to make a decision - it requires mental energy.  Too many decisions and your brain gets tired. If you are making lots of little, smaller, less important decisions - those decisions are tiring out your brain. Just a few days ago, I am facing a relatively small decision about my schedule. What to do and what order to do the things. Literally, I couldn't make a decision! I stood there thinking - why can't I decide what to do? 

Well, I had been invovled in intense mental activity for hours. Not only was I physically tired... but afterwards I realized, my brain was tired.

tired brain, brain offlineSo, when I recently read this article (a little humorous, but nonetheless useful), it made sense. The article from Fast Company suggests we standardize certain decisions so we don't waste mental activity thinking what to do. Like standardizing your clothes and what you wear.

Read - The New Habit Challenge. Whether you actually decide to take their advice on this suggestion - they are getting at something important. Too many small decisions are making your brain tired. Tired brains do not make good decsions. 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org