azekeil: (mugshot Oct09)
[personal profile] azekeil
It's been a while since I've had inspiration to write here but this deserves a post.

[livejournal.com profile] sessifet25 linked me to an article titled Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?. Rather than being the usual trite '10 weird tricks to fix your life' it talks about studies and what was learned around willpower, and it resonated.

The article talks about how willpower is a finite resource, and how poor people are trapped in a vicious circle not just because of money, but because having little money means you constantly need to make tradeoffs. This bears out, as most people (myself included) wants enough to be 'comfortable' and 'not to worry about money'. So this added drain on willpower means people have less left for making decisions.

I've found decision making to be tiring. I don't like closing options off and in some cases I've simply opted to do nothing about some things - i.e. be stuck in a rut.

I've made some big improvements in some of these areas like delegating portions to others (more on this later) and cutting sugar out of my tea.

Cutting sugar out of my tea turns out to be a poor idea in the end. I've noticed that I'm eating more junk and have less self control as a result. I thought the lower self control may be down to the Mardi Gras effect as mentioned in the article - lowering pleasure meant lower self control. However it appears it's just down to glucose. So I've literally just reversed that no sugar in tea rule but will look at other areas like choosing healthier options and smaller portion sizes instead.

At work today I noticed I was able to make a whole bunch of decisions on someone else's problems, but when it comes to my own I'm much more reluctant to make decisions. Without wanting to sound harsh, I think this is mainly down to not having to (directly) live with the consequence of my decisions. But this brings up an interesting point. I've always wanted to work in a 'team' where we talk and share and discuss work - which is what I have now at my new place. What I think I've discovered is why I want that - it's because you can make some suggestions to a colleague on some problem, and have them (or another) do the same for you - this lessens the willpower burden on both of you but instead of having to consider all the options (providing you respect their judgement and opinions) you simply have to consider whether that one option is good. You are still ultimately responsible for your own work, but you have help. The old adage "a problem shared is a problem halved" seems to really come into it's own here.

I actually think this work sharing ethic creates a healthy working environment and think this mechanism should be recognised and taught to people. Aside from anything else it would greatly aid communication which tends to be the bane of corporate culture everywhere.

Now tell me who already knew that and whose work allows you to practise this?

Date: 2013-04-29 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] androktone.livejournal.com
I agree on the willpower fatigue but I quite enjoy making decisions because I feel I'm an agent in the world. Actually I chose my current job because I wanted to make decisions about my work and I'm quite happy to live with the consequences as I trust my judgement. I find being in a team where other people want to get involved in the way you do your work quite wearying, although it might be a different matter if you're all equal-but-different-specialities and there are no power hungry maniacs in the office!


When you're poor and claiming benefits a lot of power is taken away from you and you're put into the position of a supplicant (and made to feel it) and I think that is a lot of why people seem to get stuck in a rut and make seemingly inexplicable decisions. If you don't see yourself as a free agent you don't tend to see opportunities or give yourself permission to take them. I was in that situation myself for a little while and I see friends in it now, it is endlessly frustrating watching them failing to do anything about their situation but I do understand why..

Date: 2013-04-29 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
Yes, the equal-but-different-specialities-without-power-hungry-maniacs bit applies. I do also enjoy agency but I also enjoy helping people too.

Yes the removal of agency of the poor by the better off is now a starkly inexcusable failure in our society.

Date: 2013-04-29 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] easternpromise.livejournal.com
On the topic of sugar, glucose/sucrose is a highly addictive substance. It surprises me not one jot that having phased it out of your tea, you have 'justified' having it in other places instead. If you cut out all refined sugar altogether (and in fact cut out ALL sugar for a month first including fruit and sugar added to things like 'healthy choice' ready meals) you will actually mostly cure yourself of the desire for it.

Strange but true :)

Date: 2013-04-29 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
Hmm, possibly. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to go cold turkey just yet :)

Date: 2013-04-29 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ninneviane.livejournal.com
This doesn't relate to a work place environment - but I often struggle with decision making. I've not always been like this, it's something that I've found progressively more and more difficult, the longer I've been a single parent, in combination with having a chronic health condition. On paper, health should always take precedent over financial, but it's not that simple and now I find trade off decisions more and more difficult - the buck tests with me ultimately being the breadwinner, the only breadwinner. Responsibility, living with the consequences for a poor decision, or not making a decision...*groans*...its hard.

Date: 2013-04-29 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
Yes, some things seem to get tougher as we get older, not easier.

Do you think you speak to your friends less about quandries as you've got older too? That somehow as we get older we're just supposed to cope better? Certainly for me that seems rather a coincidence..

Date: 2013-05-10 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ninneviane.livejournal.com
Sometimes. Yes in some situations that's very true. Also, because some of my work these days is within personal growth and therapy, I put undue pressure on myself to 'always' know what to do, and that I should 'always' walk the talk. Unrealistic, because I am human :) Yet I do find that pressure adds to indecision.

Date: 2013-04-30 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chocojon.livejournal.com
An interesting book which is slightly related:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dice_Man

A psychiatrist has many things to deal with and decides to adopt an alternative solution: For every decision make a list of outcomes, roll a dice, follow the result.

I wouldn't recommend it in real life but it is a good read and it would overcome any decision fatigue. :)

Date: 2013-04-30 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
Yes I've heard of that. Not sure I want to try it in real life though, although it might be an interesting way to force a decision by seeing how you feel about the suggested path...

Date: 2013-04-30 01:07 am (UTC)
gerald_duck: (quack)
From: [personal profile] gerald_duck
Woo! You should post more often! Everyone should post more often! LJ is feeling a bit like a ghost town, these days. /-8

Relating to decision making being tiring, did you see my posting about satisficing, five years ago? In essence, it's possible to improve quality of life by learning to recognise when something is good enough, and when spending more effort on optimising your decision is entering diminishing returns.

Date: 2013-04-30 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
I think the slowing of posts on LJ is just a facet of people growing older. Whereas when we were younger we felt the need to share more, now we're older somehow we magically don't need to, or something? What's that quote - put away your childish toys? Ah, seems it's actually a bible reference: 1 Corinthians 13:11 (while my quote isn't 100% accurate it appears that anything along the right vein will be right in at least one of the versions *grin*)

I remember reading your post about satisficing. I remember feeling uncomfortable about the concept of consciously stopping decision making once you're happy enough - but I do anyway, just not quite so consciously. I have trained myself to not overthink decisions, after recognising the futility of wasted effort and frustration. Unfortunately sometimes that means I simply choose to do nothing - decision fatigue, not wanting to cut down my options.

Date: 2013-04-30 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] invisigoth51.livejournal.com
I did and Mine.
When someone tells me about a case they are working on I find it easier to see the solutions or the next logical step than when it is my own - and if someone needs an assist in surgery (because something is bleeding profusely or something) I find it fairly easy to step in and help because I am calm and able to think clearly (because it is not my direct case) whereas they have probably been struggling with it for a while and are feeling stressed about it. The reverse is also true. It is very often said at work about ones self 'I am never a more competent confident surgeon than when i am looking over someone else's shoulder saying 'oh that'll be fine! It's hardly bleeding at all, just put some pressure on it''

Date: 2013-04-30 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azekeil.livejournal.com
Yes - that being responsible thing can be stressful in the moment! See - back seat 'driving' - if done courteously - can be beneficial after all :)

Date: 2013-05-01 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sessifet25.livejournal.com
It's a very interesting article which has a lot to say about how the physical affects the psychological. We all know there's some interaction, because we've seen the psychological affects the physical, but there's still some hesitation in accepting the interaction goes both ways.

On decision fatigue: I often joke about how it takes you ages to come to a decision, but I totally see why (so I really should stop doing it, because it's not kind or helpful). If you're depleting your reserve of decision-making energy at work (and at your level in the tech job tree you are asked to make a lot of them on a daily basis) you logically will have less to spare for things Not Work. I wonder if there is a way to increase the size of the decision-making reserve, or if it's a fixed thing that declines over time. The latter is mildly depressing, the former difficult because where would one start?

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