Every day we’re faced with thousands of decisions and it’s been proven that we get progressively worse at making them as the day goes on. I explored the concept of making a ‘decision filter’, but now I’m looking at how those daily decisions can be best integrated into normal life. I’ve found that the most effective way to make the right choice is by simply making it more difficult to choose poorly. For example, if I’m hungry and I go into the kitchen, I’m likely to grab something that I can eat quickly, but is not very healthy. I like to slow-cook and portion out individual meals in tupperware containers in the fridge. That way it’s easy to eat something healthy and substantial instead of just grabbing some peanut butter on a piece of bread.
Here are three ways to avoid making the wrong decision by changing your circumstances:
1. Eat a big meal before going grocery shopping.
There is nothing good that comes from me going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. If I’m really hungry, I will make the worst decisions on which items I buy and I’m more likely to make unhealthy choices. I’ve even found myself overspending on items I wouldn’t have normally gotten. If I allow a package of Oreos to make it back to the house, it’s going to get eaten. Once it enters the cupboard, it becomes an impulse decision to eat later simply because it’s there. The first step is to prevent it from making it into the house at all, by not purchasing it at the grocery store.
If possible, eat a huge healthy meal before going to the grocery store. I’ve also found that going to the grocery store after a workout tends to help with good decision-making as well. When I’m full, I find that I make much better (read: healthier) decisions about what I get.
2. Build or buy a standing desk.
If your computer is on a standing desk, it makes standing while using your computer a default. Having a standing desk both at work and home has helped me waste less time sitting around on the computer as I tend to dawdle less when I have to stand up while doing it. You can build a standing desk for $22, so it definitely doesn’t have to be an expensive acquisition, either. I’d recommend trying it out for a few hours at a time and easing yourself into standing all day. When I first built my standing desk, I went straight to standing all day and it did not feel good – at all. Ease into it and you’ll be fine.
3. Combine activities for desired results.
Carving out time to make it to the gym a few times per week can be incredibly difficult. It’s something you have to ‘make’ time for and is important for overall health, but it can seem so challenging to do consistently. Last August I started rock climbing at a local gym in Minneapolis which has allowed me to do two things at once: ‘Play’ and ‘Exercise’ at the same time. I enjoy climbing and the challenges it provides and doing so gives me a great workout. It’s a great example of one way to combine two activities into one.
I’ve also found that biking to work is incredibly beneficial – though it’s a harder argument to make during the cold winter months. By combining a commute to work with a form of exercise, you’re effectively hitting multiple ‘birds’ with one stone. You’re burning calories, exercising in the morning and evening, you show up to work more alert and happy, and you’re saving money on gas and car expenses.
These are some examples of how I build success into my daily routine. What kinds of things do you do to hold yourself accountable and motivate to complete these types of tasks?