You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Why You Should Limit Your Number of Daily Decisions Your critical thinking skills are on reserve. Don't dry the tap.

By Andrew Cohen

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the past few years, an increasing body of research has emerged related to the limits of our decision-making energies. It turns out that the quality of our decisions begins to erode during the course of a typical day, as our fixed amount of willpower is used up. Stated differently, scientists have discovered that decision-making power is a depletable resource.

This research has tremendous implications for managers at all types of companies. For the same reasons you are more likely to succumb to pizza and ice cream cravings at night after a day full of mentally exhausting healthy decisions, you are more likely to make bad or hasty management decisions after a day full of hundreds of trivial judgments.

Related: How to Declutter Your Mind and Unleash Your Willpower

It is increasingly important that you reduce your non-critical decisions as much as possible to free your brain for more important high-order thinking. Many managers fail to realize that limiting decisions is not the same as limiting the expenditure of time or financial resources. It's easy to wonder "Why should I fully delegate technical decisions to my CTO, or marketing decisions to my CMO, when it would just take me 10 minutes to review their proposals?"

The answer is that those 10 minutes of actual "work" time might have cost you an hour's worth of your mental resources. The time it takes your brain to switch between various tasks can be tremendous when you're talking about high-level thinking. If time is money, then management's mental bandwidth is money squared.

Limiting your daily decisions does not just apply to delegating large management questions. It especially applies to the little things throughout your day.

Related: Stuck? 3 Ways to Push Through to Your Next Decision.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day so that he never had to think about what to wear. Tim Ferriss eats the same (healthy) meal for breakfast every day so he doesn't have to think about what food to prepare. And President Barack Obama limits his low-priority email responses to "Agree," "Disagree" or "Discuss" to simplify the mental burden of his small decisions.

Managers of all sizes should thus always consider the mental burden of tasks, in addition to their financial costs, when determining which tasks to delegate. Decreasing your mental clutter means adding more room to grow in your current role.

Whether it's deciding to outsource your HR administration or hire one full-time paid virtual assistant rather than managing three unpaid part-time interns, limiting your daily decision-making load is almost always worth the added cost.

Related: Your Anxiety Contributes to Your Bad Decisions

Andrew Cohen

Founder & CEO, Brainscape; Instructor, TechStars and General Assembly

Andrew Cohen is the founder of Brainscape, a web and mobile education platform that helps people study more efficiently. Brainscape originally grew out of a personal project that Cohen created to help him improve his Spanish, while working in Panama for the World Bank. It later inspired him to seek a master's degree in instructional technology from Columbia University and transform his pet project into a fundable startup that can help people study any subject. Brainscape has since raised several million dollars from top venture capitalists.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business Ideas

7 Link-Building Tactics You Need to Know to Skyrocket Your Website's Rankings

An essential component of SEO, link building is not just a 'Set them and forget them' proposition, but a dance of skills and strategies.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business News

Adobe's Firefly Image Generator Was Partially Trained on AI Images From Midjourney, Other Rivals

Adobe gave bonus payments to people who contributed to the Adobe Stock database to train its AI, even those who submitted AI-generated images.